PHILADELPHIA -- Nick Castellanos will not go on a rehab assignment before rejoining the Phillies, which the club is hoping will happen sometime during next week’s series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Interim manager Rob Thomson had previously mentioned it was possible that Castellanos could decline a rehab assignment, though Thomson said on Saturday that the final decision was a mutual agreement.
"Just talking to him [Friday] night on the bench, I'm pretty confident and comfortable that he's going to be able to come back and do what he needs to do," Thomson said. "But he's done this before. He knows his body better than anybody."
Castellanos, who has been sidelined since Sept. 2 with a strained right oblique, took batting practice on the field and participated in defensive drills prior to Saturday's game against the Braves at Citizens Bank Park. He said he's been running and throwing without any issue for nearly two weeks, while the only obstacle left to clear is hitting.
"I wouldn't say 100%, but I don't feel like I need to be 100%," Castellanos said. "I just don't really want to feel restricted or like I can injure myself."
As for a potential rehab assignment, Castellanos said he simply didn't feel one was necessary.
While Castellanos has had two previous IL stints -- one each in 2016 and '21 -- he has never been on a rehab assignment. To be fair, his return from a seven-week absence in '16 came after the Minor League season had concluded, so a rehab assignment wasn't an option. Castellanos, then with Detroit, went 3-for-13 with five strikeouts over the final five games of that season.
Last season, Castellanos jumped right back into the Reds' lineup in early August after missing two weeks with a right wrist injury. In his first 10 games back, he went 6-for-34 (.176) with two homers and 16 strikeouts.
Castellanos hasn't played a Minor League game since Aug. 31, 2013 -- one day before his Major League debut with the Tigers.
"This is a completely different level than the Minor Leagues," Castellanos said. "I've known so many people who have gone down and done fantastic in their rehab assignments, then come up and -- it's a new game. So my philosophy is the sooner that I can get back into the games that are important, the better."
Though Castellanos was obviously not referencing anyone specifically, Phillies fans can certainly understand the sentiment.
Bryce Harper put on a show at Triple-A Lehigh Valley following his two-month absence due to a broken left thumb, going 5-for-8 with two homers and two doubles before the Phillies opted to cut short his rehab assignment after just two games. Harper entered Saturday hitting just .205 (18-for-88) with two homers and 29 strikeouts in 24 games since rejoining the club on Aug. 26.
Castellanos' situation is complicated further by the fact that Harper is relegated to DH duties for the rest of the season due to his lingering right elbow issues. Typically, Thomson would have eased Castellanos back into the lineup by alternating days between playing right field and serving as the DH. Without that option, Castellanos will likely get some off-days upon his return.
Either way, once Castellanos is deemed healthy enough to play, it'll be in right field with the Phillies.
"I always feel more comfortable when a guy goes on a rehab assignment just to get out there and play, but it doesn't necessarily mean it's the right thing to do," Thomson said. "We're late in the season, and if he can perform, then I'd rather have him do it with us and not miss a couple of days."