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Why the Phillies demoted Nick Pivetta after his 11-strikeout game

With Odubel Herrera out with a bothersome left hamstring, there might be a method to the madness of sending the hard-throwing righthander to triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Phillies’ Nick Pivetta, who started against the Padres on Wednesday, was sent down to triple-A Lehigh Valley after the game.
Phillies’ Nick Pivetta, who started against the Padres on Wednesday, was sent down to triple-A Lehigh Valley after the game.Read moreGREGORY BULL / Associated Press

SAN DIEGO — Odubel Herrera was not available to play against the Padres on Wednesday, and the Phillies do not know when he will be able to play again. His left hamstring bothered him Monday and Tuesday. But it is not bad enough — yet — to require time on the disabled list.

"Better," Herrera said when asked about the injury.

Could he play this weekend?

"Maybe," Herrera said.

So that is why the Phillies demoted their starter from Wednesday's game, Nick Pivetta, to triple A. They will summon an extra position player for Thursday's game in San Francisco. The demotion is not punitive for Pivetta.

[Phillies blanked by Clayton Richard and his 5.14 ERA]

Really, it is a procedural transaction.

Pivetta is not scheduled to start again until Tuesday, when the Phillies play a doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park against Miami. Recent rules changes to the collective bargaining agreement  permit teams to add a 26th man for scheduled doubleheaders. Pivetta, despite not being on his optional assignment for 10 days, can be that 26th man and start one of the games.

The Phillies would not confirm that is their plan.

"He's an option for that," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "That's the new rule; you can add a 26th man. He's a possibility."

The Phillies have a full 40-man roster and just two healthy position players on it who are not in the majors. They are Dylan Cozens and Brock Stassi. Cozens has hit .179 with 64 strikeouts in 134 at-bats since July 1. So Stassi could be the choice as a temporary addition.

Pivetta understood the situation. He must report to triple-A Lehigh Valley, but he probably will not pitch there.

[Phillies minor-league roundup]

"I'm going to go down and work hard," Pivetta said. "It will be fine. I'm going to be back up eventually. So we'll just keep moving day by day there."

Herrera's status, for the second straight day, remained unclear.

"That's still up in the air," Mackanin said. "I don't have a definite answer for that. In the meantime, we need a position player."

Extra bases

San Diego swept the Phillies for the first time ever at Petco Park, which opened in 2004. Their last three-game sweep of the Phillies here was in 2000, when the games were played at Qualcomm Stadium.  … The Phillies will face three lefties in their four games at AT&T Park. First, on Thursday, is veteran righthander Jeff Samardzija. Then the Giants will go with Matt Moore, Ty Blach and Madison Bumgarner. The Phillies will counter with four righthanders starting with Aaron Nola on Thursday. After that, it's Zach Eflin, Jerad Eickhoff and Mark Leiter Jr.