7/21/2013 12:26 P.M. ET
Doc takes big step in return from shoulder injury
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Right-hander Roy Halladay took another step toward a return to competitive action on Sunday, when he threw off a mound for the first time since having corrective surgery on his throwing shoulder.
Halladay, who underwent a procedure to correct debridement in his labrum and rotator cuff in May, threw 20 pitches, all of them fastballs. The Phillies aren't certain when he'll take his next step, but if he feels good, he could be back on a mound again soon.
"I don't look at velocity at all right now," said pitching coach Rich Dubee. "I'm looking at his arm path, making sure he gets his arm up where it needs to be. And ever since Day 1, it's been very encouraging. After the surgery his range of motion has been phenomenal."
Halladay, an eight-time All-Star and two-time Cy Young Award-winner, posted a 2-4 record and an 8.65 ERA in seven starts before undergoing surgery. He's spent the last few months diligently working back into shape, and Dubee said that his arm slot is eight to 10 inches higher than it used to be.
Dubee resisted talking about the next stage of the plan, though. He said that it's clear Halladay will need more time to get his arm in working order, and he wouldn't say how many bullpen sessions the ace would need before he can face hitters. For now the Phillies are being conservative.
"This is the first stage of another phase that we're going to be going through," said Dubee. "It's not like he's going to throw 100 pitches and then tomorrow be on the mound in a game somewhere. This is just the progression he's on. Today was his first day on the mound, and it went well."
Asked if Halladay could come back as a reliever, Dubee replied that in his mind, Halladay is still a starter. The Phillies are going to give Halladay room to come back at his own pace, and they won't make any drastic decisions until there aren't any other options.
"He'll determine how fast we can go by how he's feeling," said Dubee. "We've got a plan on paper, but again, that's flexible according to where he is and how fast he progresses."
Rollins wasn't concerned about homer drought
NEW YORK -- It might have been a drought on paper, but it didn't feel like one. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins snapped a streak of 161 at-bats without a home run on Saturday, but he said on Sunday that he didn't really know the particulars and that he wasn't particularly relieved to have gone deep.
"I knew about it because it was in an article. Other than that I had no idea," said Rollins of snapping his homerless streak. "I don't know how to put it, but it wasn't even in my mind. I'm trying to get some doubles. That's what I'm really trying to do. It feels like I haven't doubled in a long time."
And on that count, the three-time All-Star is precisely correct. Rollins has doubled just once in July, and he didn't hit for much power in June either. He has just three doubles and the lone home run since the beginning of June, and he's slugged just .297 in his last 165 at-bats.
Rollins is back in his customary leadoff slot, but he also spent some time this season batting third. He changed roles to accommodate the team when Chase Utley was on the disabled list, and he even asked Utley for advice on hitting in the heart of the order.
Now Utley's back in the third spot, and cleanup man Ryan Howard is on the DL. All-Star Domonic Brown has moved into the cleanup slot, and Rollins is back igniting the team from the top spot. Interestingly, he said he enjoyed his time hitting third.
"When I started going back to [leadoff], they pitched me similar in some ways but different in other ways," he said. "Hitting third, I wasn't getting first-pitch fastballs. I knew they were going to tinker around, and you find yourself in a lot better hitting counts, because that's how they pitch you. When you're a leadoff guy, they're not trying to get you in hitting counts. They're trying to get you out as fast as possible and not have you on base. Being aggressive in the three-hole doesn't necessarily work."
Rollins, the National League's Most Valuable Player in 2007, is on pace for the lowest slugging percentage (.352) of his career, but he's not particularly concerned about the numbers. He knows he has a track record, and he is confident he will close strong in the season's final months.
"There are no midway reports," he said. "After the season, then we can evaluate everything."
Mayberry OK with being sole center fielder
NEW YORK -- John Mayberry Jr. is out there on an island. Ever since Ben Revere went down with a broken right foot, Mayberry has been thrust into the role as the Phillies' everyday center fielder.
Only one of Philadelphia's reserves -- the veteran Laynce Nix -- has extensive experience playing in center field. That means that Mayberry, at 29 years old, has to be ready every day to patrol those wide expanses, and he said on Sunday that it's a challenge he's willing to face.
"I take it in stride," Mayberry said. "I take the same kind of approach I've had every other day of the season. I just come to the park ready to play, have fun and try to help us win."
Mayberry, the son of former big leaguer John Mayberry, has primarily played the corner outfield slots in the Majors. He went into this season with just 78 career starts in center field, but he's taken to the position with aplomb, playing between corner men Domonic Brown and Delmon Young.
The Phillies may make a roster move at some point to get a more dedicated reserve for center field, but for now it's an interesting bench. Philadelphia has two backup catchers (Erik Kratz and Humberto Quintero), a backup outfielder (Nix) and two veteran utility men (Kevin Frandsen and John McDonald).
Mayberry, a former first-round draftee, played his first full season in the big leagues last year, and he's improved on his numbers in regard to batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Now he's hoping to finish strong and establish himself as an everyday player -- in center field or elsewhere.
"With each passing day, you definitely gain more experience and confidence," he said. "You just try to apply the things you've learned in the past and try to make them as beneficial as you can."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.