ST. LOUIS — J.P. Crawford tested his right forearm one last time Thursday afternoon before he shuffled out of Busch Stadium and headed to Florida to ramp up his rehab.
The shortstop flew to Florida on Thursday night and expects to begin a rehab assignment next week with high-A Clearwater. It was the next step for Crawford, who has been out since April 29 with a strained forearm. He could be back before the end of the month.
“I feel good,” Crawford said. “Started throwing a little less than a week ago and throwing further day by day. It feels good.”
Crawford’s return will create a playing-time bind as Scott Kingery and Maikel Franco have both gained everyday roles from Crawford’s absence. Kingery will likely return his super-utility role once Crawford returns, which could further cut into the playing time of Nick Williams, who was out of the lineup again Thursday and has started just four of the team’s last 15 games. The Phillies still have time to figure it out.
Crawford took batting practice in the afternoon and looked strong as he sprayed hits to both sides of the ballpark. But the real test, he said, came during his throws. He began playing catch last week and felt fine, a relief after his arm went numb during a game last month. A better test awaits in Florida.
“It’s getting there,” Crawford said. “Getting stronger every day and just see how it goes.”
Morgan returns; Arano close
Adam Morgan was activated from the disabled list Thursday afternoon, giving the Phillies the lefthanded option they have sought for their bullpen.
That unit will receive another upgrade this weekend when Victor Arano is activated from the DL. The righthander threw 22 pitches in an inning of work Thursday morning with triple-A Lehigh Valley and flew to St. Louis. The Phillies will evaluate Arano on Friday and will likely activate him then or on Saturday. Arano has been out since April 29 with a strained rotator cuff.
The Phillies had been without a lefthanded reliever since Morgan suffered a lower back strain during a workout on May 7. Zac Curtis was in the bullpen during that stretch, but the Phillies never used him in high-leverage situations as they instead used righthander Tommy Hunter to record key outs against lefthanders.
“It feels really good to have him back,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “He’s a weapon against left and right. It’s really nice to have a weapon against a tough lefty.”
Jake Arrieta starts Friday against St. Louis righthander Michael Wacha, who has a 1.86 ERA in his last five starts. The Cardinals have not named a started for Saturday against Zach Eflin. … The Phillies entered the four-game series with an .889 winning percentage against teams from outside the National League East. It is the best mark for a team against non-division foes.