PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies hope Chase Utley can return to the lineup before Sept. 1.
That could make Wednesday an important day.
Utley will head to New York to see hand specialist Andrew Weiland, who performed surgery on Utley's right thumb on July 1. Utley has been throwing and playing catch before batting practice, including before Tuesday's game against the Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park. Utley also continues to field ground balls while wearing a thumb guard.
Utley still is not swinging a bat. Weiland could give him the OK to start hitting Wednesday.
If Utley starts hitting and his thumb responds well, there is a chance Utley could be back before Sept. 1, although the team's original eight-week timetable continues to be the best bet.
Phils add southpaw to bullpen in Bastardo
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies figured they needed another left-hander in their bullpen more than they needed a fifth man on their bench.
So on Tuesday, they recalled lefty Antonio Bastardo from Triple-A Lehigh Valley after optioning outfielder John Mayberry Jr. to Lehigh Valley on Sunday.
"We needed a lefty," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said before Tuesday's series opener against the Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park. "Not only for the Dodgers, but for everybody else."
The Dodgers have a pair of left-handed hitters Bastardo could face this week: Andre Ethier and James Loney.
Bastardo is 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA and three saves in 15 appearances this season with Lehigh Valley. In 13 2/3 innings, he has allowed just four hits and three walks and has struck out 21. Opponents have hit just .089 (4-for-45) against him.
Left-hander J.C. Romero, who had been the only lefty in the bullpen, has been struggling with his command, but Manuel said Romero's struggles had no impact on the Phils' decision to call up Bastardo. Romero has 22 walks in 24 1/3 innings, including six walks in his past 2 2/3 innings. Romero's 8.1 walks per nine innings are a career high.
"We'll see how things go," Manuel said. "Four-man bench? It'd be better with five, but we'll have to make due with it."
Victorino likely to replace Brown upon return
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left abdominal muscle, made a rehab start Tuesday night, going 1-for-2 in five innings for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He could be activated as early as this weekend's series against the Mets at Citi Field.
Where would that leave outfielder Domonic Brown?
Brown, who entered Tuesday hitting .226 (7-for-31) with a double and six RBIs in nine games, could be optioned to Lehigh Valley, where he would play every day before returning Sept. 1 when rosters expand.
Brown still would be eligible for the postseason roster, should the Phillies make the playoffs. Any player in the organization by Aug. 31 is eligible for the postseason. And because left-hander Jamie Moyer will spend the rest of the season on the disabled list, the Phillies have flexibility to replace his spot on the 25-man roster with anybody they choose.
Phillies hitting coach Greg Gross likes what he has seen from Brown.
"He's like anybody else," Gross said. "Initially he's thinking it's going to be different here, so he's got to do something different here. But now he's starting to feel comfortable. I think his ABs have been pretty good since he's been here. He's driven in some big runs, some two-out RBIs -- a couple against left-handers. He doesn't have a whole lot of experience. He's moved pretty quick through the system."
Brown had played just 102 games at Double-A Reading and just 28 games at Lehigh Valley before joining the Phillies.
"He's accounted for himself pretty well so far," Gross said. "He's going to be in that phase where he listens to everything. What he needs to understand is that he has to see these [pitchers] for himself. It's nice to have the information about what guys throw, but you still have to go through that. He's going to be a good player."
Howard receives special gift from fan
PHILADELPHIA -- A fan sent the Phillies a Roll-A-Bout for first baseman Ryan Howard, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left ankle.
It is basically is a scooter with a basket attached.
Teammates had some fun decorating it, putting red streamers on the handlebars and wrapping tin foil around the wheels to make them look like expensive rims.
"We got to the playoffs last year," Howard joked. "You couldn't have got me a Segway?"
'Big Phantic Photo Op' set for Monday
PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphians certainly have noticed the 20 Phanatic statues around the city since the beginning of the season.
The Phillies are hosting a "Big Phantic Photo Op" at noon ET on Monday on the lawn of the Independence Visitor Center. Fans will be involved in a photo with one of the Phanatic statues and the Phanatic himself. The Phillies also will announce plans for an online auction for the statues at phillies.com, which begins Aug. 29 -- the last day the statues will be seen around the city.
The auction will benefit Phillies Charities and a new Phanatic Walk in September at Citizens Bank Park.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.