DENVER -- Phillies right-hander Roy Oswalt said he has enjoyed watching the team's vaunted starting rotation blaze through the National League, but he's glad that his days as a spectator are nearing an end.Oswalt, who has been on the 15-day disabled list with lower back inflammation and two bulging disks since June 24, said he will make his return to the rotation on Sunday at San Francisco. "I feel healthy and I don't have any pain," Oswalt said. "That's the biggest thing." The veteran right-hander completed his final rehab start at Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Monday and is eager to rejoin a rotation that has helped the Phillies post the best record in baseball to this point in the season. "The biggest thing right now is winning this year," he said. "I don't really look too much further than that."
Like he did for the Astros in 2009, Oswalt pitched through pain during the early portion of the season, going 4-6 with a 3.79 ERA over 13 starts. A second cortisone shot has helped relieve the pain in his back, and Oswalt said he is looking forward to taking the mound without discomfort.
"It doesn't make it fun when you're out there and you know you can't perform at your top level," Oswalt said. "You try not to make excuses when you're out there and you try to help your team win. It got to a point where I wasn't giving the team a chance to win, so I knew I had to do something."
With Oswalt starting Sunday, Cole Hamels will pitch Saturday on regular five days' rest.Oswalt is hoping his performance in the final two months of the season can mirror his results from the end of the 2010 campaign, when he won seven straight decisions to end the regular season.
"Hopefully I can get on a run like I did last year. That'd be great," he said. "The thing about baseball is that you never know what's going to happen until you get out there."
Ibanez big part of Phillies' collective surge
DENVER -- The Phillies offense has started its 10-game road trip on the right foot by receiving production from nearly every spot in the lineup while taking the first two games from the Rockies.Left fielder Raul Ibanez has been one of those contributors, as he laced an RBI double in Philadelphia's 4-3 win over the Rockies on Monday. It was nothing new for Ibanez, who has driven in 26 runs in the Phillies' last 23 games. After hitting .211 in June, Ibanez batted .284 in July and he has begun August in similar fashion. But the outfielder isn't taking much time to reflect on his own surge at the plate.
"I don't really talk about my own stuff, but I will tell you about our team, and I think collectively we've been getting guys on base and driving guys in when we need to," he said. "For me, it's just see it, hit it, basic stuff."
Ibanez, hitting .333 with two home runs over his last 10 games, likes what he has seen from the Phillies offense, a unit that appears to be refreshed by the addition of Hunter Pence."We've been swinging the bats well as a group," he said. "Hopefully that can continue."
Nick Kosmider is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.