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07/07/12 7:26 PM ET

Howard out of lineup night after '12 debut

PHILADELPHIA -- As expected, Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard was not in Saturday's lineup.

The Phillies planned to give him Saturday off after he played back-to-back games at first base for the first time on Thursday with Triple-A Lehigh Valley and on Friday with the Phillies. Howard is expected to be in the lineup Sunday in the series finale against the Braves, which is the team's final game before the All-Star break.

Howard said he came out of the back-to-back games feeling OK.

"I came back for Day 3," he joked. "No, I feel normal. I feel good."

Halladay's third 'pen session goes well

PHILADELPHIA -- Roy Halladay threw his third bullpen session on Saturday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said it went well.

Halladay, who is recovering from a strained right latissimus dorsi, is scheduled to throw his fourth bullpen session on Monday in Clearwater, Fla. He could begin a rehab assignment shortly after that, and could rejoin the Phillies' rotation as early as the July 16-18 series against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.

Dubee noticed a lack of velocity through the strike zone with Halladay's pitches before he went on the disabled list. Dubee said he has seen improvement, not only in the bullpen sessions, but earlier when Halladay was long tossing.

"It seems like he's got the lateness he used to have," Dubee said. "We'll see. We'll see what batters look like eventually."

Bastardo to remain setup man for Phils

PHILADELPHIA -- Despite Antonio Bastardo's inconsistent performances this season, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is sticking with the left-handed reliever as his setup man. With a young bullpen that owns the second-worst ERA (4.84) in the Major Leagues entering Saturday, Manuel simply doesn't have many options.

"When he's good, he also shows me that he can get it done," Manuel said of Bastardo, who is 2-3 with a 5.34 ERA. "I'm leery to just kinda give up on him."

Bastardo's last two outings are a display of his inconsistencies.

In the eighth inning of Thursday's loss against the Mets, Bastardo retired the heart of New York's lineup -- David Wright, Scott Hairston and Lucas Duda -- in order to set up Jonathan Papelbon for the save.

Then on Friday against the Braves, he entered a scoreless game in the eighth inning and issued three walks, including one with the bases loaded, and allowed a grand slam to Brian McCann.

Pitching coach Rich Dubee doesn't think Bastardo's problem is anything mechanical, but rather his confidence on the mound.

"He gets the first guy out, he gets on a good roll," Dubee said on Saturday. "[He] doesn't get the first guy out, things are snowballing against him. A lot of it's confidence. [We] gotta get his head straight. His stuff's fine."

Manuel meeting with players before break

PHILADELPHIA -- With the All-Star break coming on Monday, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel took time on Saturday to walk around and talk to each of his players individually.

The skipper said he usually has a meeting with the entire club before the break, but decided to do it differently this year. He said the feedback thus far had been good. As of a couple hours before Saturday's first pitch, he had yet to talk to a couple players.

"I just felt like I wanted to do it," Manuel said. "I feel like it's better to sit there and talk to the individual one-on-one. I think it gives them a chance to open up to you. I think you can get more out of it that way sometimes. It's just kinda how I felt."

Worth noting

• Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are wearing new batting helmets, ones that all players will be required to wear beginning next season. Utley suffered a concussion last season, so it was encouraged he start wearing the new one. Howard simply figured he would get a jump on wearing the new one now.

• The Phillies announced that their starters for their three-game series at Colorado (July 13-15) will be Cliff Lee, Vance Worley and Cole Hamels.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.