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09/12/11 8:10 PM ET

Phils temporarily without Utley, Valdez

HOUSTON -- Infielders Chase Utley and Wilson Valdez were not available for Monday's Phillies game against the Astros.

Valdez pulled his left hamstring late in Saturday's 3-2 win over the Brewers. Utley left Wednesday's game against Atlanta in the bottom of the eighth inning after being hit in the helmet by a pitch in the sixth. He has not played since.

"He's not available today," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of Valdez. "[Utley] went to the doctor today. I hadn't heard anything more."

Manuel said he has no plans to make any personnel changes to compensate for the temporary loss of the two infielders.

"We've got what we got," Manuel said.

In first start off DL, Rollins pleased with timing

HOUSTON -- On Monday night at Minute Maid Park, Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins made his first start since coming off the 15-day disabled list. Rollins was activated on Thursday after being shelved on Aug. 22 with a right groin strain.

"It's just like any other day," Rollins said upon his return to the starting lineup. "It's not my first time on the DL, unfortunately. I've had a couple of pinch-hit at-bats, which was fun. It went well, and I felt good. I didn't feel like I had any timing issues. That's the only thing you concern yourself with."

What was the hardest part about sitting on the sideline?

"It's much easier to stay healthy," Rollins said. "Doing all that extra work, it's not fun in that regard."

Rollins, who has secured his 10th career season of 20 stolen bases, says he could be at full speed.

"If I push it, I can get there," Rollins said.

Pence's return to Houston as visitor 'eerie'

HOUSTON -- The media swarmed Hunter Pence as he reached the Phillies' dugout prior to Monday's series opener against the Astros at Minute Maid Park. The game marked the first return to Houston as opposing players for Pence and Monday's Phillies starter, Roy Oswalt.

"I've been looking forward to coming home and playing," Pence said. "It's a good feeling being home."

But Pence admitted that it was strange to be on the opposing side of the field at Minute Maid Park.

"It's very weird," Pence said. "I'm familiar with the field, but I didn't know how to get to visitors' clubhouse, where to park. That whole thing was weird. And just the whole thing, I was like, 'Man, I'm playing against these guys.' That's a little eerie feeling."

But playing in a Phillies uniform is no different for Pence than playing in an Astros uniform.

"It's the same game," Pence said. "It's just playing baseball. We've got some great veterans, so there's an opportunity to learn a lot from some great minds in the game of baseball."

Manuel confident in Oswalt's strength

HOUSTON -- If Roy Oswalt isn't back at full strength, he's pretty close. The Phillies right-hander missed 37 games with lower back inflammation from June 24 to Aug. 6. He entered Monday's start with a 3-2 record in 40 innings since his return, having yielded 16 earned runs with 34 strikeouts.

"I'm looking forward to see him pitch -- I always do," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said prior to Monday's start.

"The last couple times out, he's gone 116 [pitches], and that's a good sign. If he reaches over 100 today, more likely his next turn out, I would say his arm strength is definitely back. The last time out, he threw 93 [mph]. He threw a lot of 90s-93s."

In his last start, on Wednesday against Atlanta, Oswalt took a no-hitter into the sixth inning. He worked seven innings, giving up four hits and two earned runs while striking out seven in a no-decision.

Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.