PHILADELPHIA -- During the final 53 games of this season, several younger Phillies have the chance to audition for roles on the 2013 team.
One of those is left-handed reliever Jeremy Horst, who has pitched well since his promotion from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on June 28. Entering Tuesday, the 26-year-old has allowed three runs (two earned) in 12 innings of work spanning 13 games. He's struck out 13 and walked four.
Horst, who the Phillies acquired from the Reds in the offseason, has gotten the bulk of his work in the later innings, throwing a combined 7 1/3 innings in the eighth and ninth.
Horst said he feels his stint with the Phillies this season has gone well and he enjoys getting the opportunity to pitch on a frequent basis. He said pitching well in late-inning situations is a confidence boost for him, and he hopes his work over the remainder of 2012 puts him on solid ground to land a roster spot out of Spring Training next season.
"I think it's been going good," he said. "I'm kind of a tough critic on myself, so every outing there's something I'd like to improve on or wish I could've done a little bit different. ... I think I've done well and hopefully I can just keep throwing strikes and getting outs."
Polanco feeling better, but not yet ready to return
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco said on Tuesday that although his back was feeling better, he was unsure of when he will return to the field.
Polanco has been on the 15-day disabled list with lower back inflammation since July 23, meaning he was eligible to be activated on Tuesday. It appears the injury is going to keep him sidelined a little longer than the 15 days, though, as Polanco has yet to even field ground balls before a game.
"I think that once he starts taking ground balls, that will be an indication that he's moving along," manager Charlie Manuel said before Tuesday's game against the Braves.
Kevin Frandsen has filled in nicely in Polanco's absence. Frandsen, who was promoted from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on July 27, started his ninth consecutive game at the hot corner on Tuesday.
Frandsen entered Tuesday's game against the Braves hitting .310 with a home run and two RBIs. He's committed one error in 19 chances in the field.
"He's holding his own," Manuel said. "He's been playing pretty good."
Outfielder Domonic Brown said his right hand is fine after being hit by a pitch in the third inning of Monday's 6-1 loss. He started in left field and batted out of the two-hole on Tuesday.
The Phillies put in extra work in the field before Tuesday's game, working on cutoffs and relays. Manuel said that at the All-Star break he had planned to try to have his players perform extra defensive drills maybe once per homestand.
Though Manuel said the drills are meant to help the outfielders strengthen their arms and work on hitting the cutoff man, the skipper admitted the Phillies' defense needs some work.
"There's always gonna be mistakes in a game," he said. "But at the same time, you just can't keep repeating those same mistakes. And we definitely have to improve on those. We used to never have trouble as far as our defense. The last couple years, our defense has kinda gotten out of whack. When you get a lot of new players and everything, I can see why that would happen."
Though Brown has been back with the Phillies for only a week now, Manuel said he sees improvement in the outfielder's defense. Brown started his seventh straight game in left field on Tuesday, but Manuel has said he might also try playing Brown in center field and right field.
"He's caught what he's supposed to catch and he's improved," Manuel said. "He looks good to me so far."
The Phillies entered Tuesday looking to snap a seven-game losing streak against the Braves.
In 34 plate appearances during Monday's 6-1 loss to the Braves, the Phillies did not strike out once. It's the first time they've done that since April 1, 2011, and just the fifth time in the 2,052 games they've played since the 2000 season. Philadelphia's 706 strikeouts entering Tuesday were the fewest in the National League this season.
Cole Hamels started his 100th career game at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night.
Jake Kaplan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.