Nick Castellanos ran down fly balls, threw to bases and took batting practice Saturday afternoon. He will go through a similar workout Sunday and is expected to be back in right field for the Phillies sometime during the team’s three-game series against the Chicago Cubs which begins Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.
Castellanos, out for three weeks with a right oblique injury, will not go on a minor-league rehabilitation assignment as was manager Rob Thomson’s recommendation. Players cannot be forced to go on rehab.
“They asked if I think I need one and I said no,” Castellanos said after his workout Saturday. “I just feel like the sooner I can get back and play and lose myself in a baseball game, the better.
“This is a completely different level than the minor leagues. I’ve known so many people that have gone down and done fantastic in their rehab assignments and then have come up and it’s a new game. My philosophy is the sooner I can get back into a game that’s important, the better.”
Thomson spoke with Castellanos on Friday. He said the decision to forgo minor-league rehab was mutual.
“Just talking to him, I’m pretty confident and comfortable that he’s going to be able to come back and do what he needs to do,” Thomson said. “Now, we may have to give him some days off here and there because he hasn’t been in the outfield much. He’s done this before. He knows his body better than anybody.
“I always feel more comfortable when a guy goes on a rehab assignment just to get out there and play, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the right thing to do. We’re late in the season and if he can perform, I’d rather have him do it with us.”
Castellanos injured his right oblique on a swing September 2 in San Francisco. The team called the injury “minor” and Thomson predicted Castellanos would return not long after his 10-day assignment on the injured list ended.
Castellanos needed more time than that.
“I feel good. Better,” he said. “I wouldn’t say 100 percent, but I don’t feel like I need to be 100 percent. I just don’t want to feel restricted or like I could injure myself again.
“I didn’t know what to expect. This is the first time I’ve had an oblique injury. I just know every single person that has had one has come up to me and said this isn’t something that you want to rush because if you (mess) it up then you’re done and your rehab goes into the offseason. It’s been a delicate balance -- hurry up and get back and don’t hurt yourself.”
Castellanos said swinging a bat was the final hurdle in his recovery.
“I felt 100 percent running and throwing two weeks ago, 10 days ago,” he said.
Castellanos, 30, is in the first year of a five-year, $100 million contract with the Phillies. In 128 games, he’s hitting .265 with 13 homers and 61 RBIs. His .702 OPS ranks 95th among the 113 major league players who have reached 550 plate appearances this season.
Prior to getting injured, Castellanos was enjoying a hot streak, hitting .322 with five homers, 15 RBIs and a .845 OPS over a 31-game span. The Phillies hope he can resume that streak in the coming week.