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Philadelphia baseball from the majors to the minors.

Eickhoff inches closer to returning to the mound

Embed from Getty ImagesJerad Eickhoff has yet to pitch for the Phillies this season but he’s making strides toward facing live hitters in the relatively near future. Eickhoff was on the DL opening day with a lat strain and as he prepared to return from that injury he suffered numbness in his fingers during a rehab start with Lehigh Valley.

On Tuesday, Eickhoff threw 20 pitches in a bullpen session and reported afterward that he felt good. The initial bullpen session is a baby-step in his return since all 20 pitches were fastballs and he only experienced the numbness when he threw curveballs during his rehab assignment. He’ll throw another bullpen session Saturday in Washington and will mix in curveballs during that outing.

“That’s a big test,” Eickhoff told Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. “I am cautiously optimistic that I won’t feel anything.”

After experiencing the numbness, Eickhoff was put through a number of tests that ruled out any serious problems that would have required surgery and was treated with an anti-inflammatory injection in his wrist. Eickhoff will throw at least one more bullpen session after Saturday before starting a rehab assignment with one of the Phillies minor league affiliates. Surgery would have caused him to miss the entire season but it is believed that he should return to the Phillies rotation after the rehab assignment, but it hinges on his next bullpen session on Saturday when he starts mixing in curveballs to test whether he feels any numbness.

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