PHILADELPHIA -- Jimmy Rollins walked through the Phillies' clubhouse on Friday with ease until he got to the front door.
Rollins has been out of the lineup with a tight right hamstring, but in this case, he stopped because Shane Victorino was talking to him. Twice he tried to leave only to have Victorino talk him back into the clubhouse.
"I'm not stopping this time," Rollins joked as he finally left.
Even better, he moved effortlessly out the door and with some running later in the afternoon, Rollins appeared closer to a return to the lineup with just 15 games left in the regular season.
"He's progressing well and we'll see how [it] goes," assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. "He's not ready to play right now, but he's getting closer. Fortunately, he's had the experiences this year that let him know what he needs to do to get back in the field."
Madson experiencing heavy workload
PHILADELPHIA -- On Wednesday, the Phillies held a six-run lead over Florida in the eighth inning at Sun Life Stadium.
Up six runs, there was a thought from the press box, local eateries and countless family rooms around the Delaware Valley that this was the time to unload all the excess bullpen baggage. That with a comfortable lead, there was no better time to use anyone but Ryan Madson or Brad Lidge.
Manager Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee respectfully declined this notion and went with their regular 1-2 combination out of the bullpen in the 10-5 win. Given the chance, they'd do the exact same thing today, tomorrow and the rest of the season if need be because that's what they've done in each of the five seasons they've been together.
J.C. Romero pitched in 20 of 28 games in September 2007. Tom Gordon pitched in 18 games (and 13 of the final 16) and Brett Myers pitched in 16 games (and 12 of the final 16) that same season as the Phillies made a miraculous run to the playoffs.
"We have a luxury right now where we know there is an off-day in our schedule," Dubee said on Friday. "You don't approach it as one game, but as a group of games. When you know you have an off-day coming, you use your staff in a different way.
"Down in Florida the other day, we used [Chad] Durbin and Lidge and Madson because we knew we had an off-day coming. I think with some pitchers, the workload is important. With an off-day coming up, they still need work and you have to know you can use them consecutive days."
Madson hasn't had what anyone would consider a light workload over the past month. In fact, since the All-Star break, the veteran right-handed reliever had made 37 appearances entering Friday's action. The next closest pitchers in baseball had 32, and Durbin, who is second in appearances for the Phillies since the break, had 29.
That's a big difference, but there are two factors to consider when looking at the Phillies use of Madson. First, they have surged to a three-game lead in the National League East and have a shot to end the race before the final weekend in Atlanta. An early end would give the entire pitching staff some much needed rest, not just Madson, who had gone 3-2 with a 1.24 ERA since the break. In 36 1/3 innings, he has struck out 44 and opponents have hit .171 against him entering Friday.
More to the point, Madson missed two months this season after breaking a toe kicking a chair in San Francisco.
"I think definitely [the two months off helped]," Dubee said. "Fortunately, we covered up for him when he was out. I think the rest and not going through the full-season grind has helped him now.
"I think when a guy gets tired, he tries to generate more effort and you lose command. That's what you have to watch. It's the angle, the effort and the command. Ryan has his command right now."
Schedule favorable for Phils down stretch
PHILADELPHIA -- On Sept. 8, the Phillies completed a brutal stretch of 24 games in 23 days with a 10-6 win over Florida. The fact that they went 15-9 over that span was secondary to the fact that they had survived, and in an odd twist, had begun to get healthy with the return of both Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to the everyday lineup.
That stretch also gave way to a run of 21 games to finish the season during which the Phillies play no more than six consecutive days and have four consecutive Thursday's off.
"Yeah, it will definitely help," Charlie Manuel said. "If I think a guy needs an extra day I'll give it to him, but the schedule works in our favor. I think I've been around long enough to know when to give guys a rest."
With his next home run, Ryan Howard will set a franchise record with five consecutive seasons with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs. He is currently tied with Chuck Klein, who reached those marks in four straight seasons from 1929-32. ... Since being held to three hits on Sept. 3 in the first game of a doubleheader against Florida, the Phillies' lineup has hit .324 (106-for-327) and have won eight of nine games.
Mike Radano is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.