Aaron Nola's MRI Comes Back Clean; Matt Klentak Talks Plans for Howie Kendrick, Aaron Altherr

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak had some good news to report on Aaron Nola Friday. 

Nola, on the DL since April 24 with a strained back, had an MRI Thursday and it came back clean.

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Nola had pitched three simulated innings in the bullpen Monday and played catch Tuesday. Things were progressing well but he felt a spasm in his lower back when tying his shoes and the team sent him back to Philadelphia for the precautionary MRI.

Nola will throw a bullpen session this weekend and if it goes well, the next step would be a rehab assignment. 

Kendrick update
Howie Kendrick has been working defensively all over the place - first base, second base, third base and the outfield - during his DL stint. 

"He looks like an 18-year-old kid trying to make a team," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said Friday afternoon.

Mackanin didn't want to term it a setback but said Kendrick did still feel a little something in his strained oblique so the Phils will continue to take his rehab slowly. He's been out long enough at this point that he would require a rehab assignment before returning to the 25-man roster.

"I would say status undetermined but our best guess right now is he'll be here through the weekend and into next week," Klentak said of Kendrick Friday. "Best-case scenario, we might see him on a rehab assignment middle to late next week. It could be as late as next weekend. He too will need a rehab assignment before he is activated. But I would say, today is Friday, another week roughly before he starts the rehab and we'll see how many at-bats he needs before he's activated."

Klentak was then, of course, asked about Aaron Altherr, who has been playing left field and hitting a ton in place of Kendrick.

If Altherr keeps this up, is there a chance he still plays five-six times per week when Kendrick returns?

"I'll always defer to Pete on the lineup construction, but having spoken with Pete, that's a priority for him," Klentak said. "Pete's priority is to put the best nine in the lineup, or best eight in the National League, that he can. If Aaron is giving us the best chance to win, I expect Aaron will continue to play. 

"To have too many players playing well is a good problem to have. We can talk about Daniel Nava in the same way, he's been among our more productive offensive players so far. Pete's worked hard so far to try to get him in the lineup and Daniel has delivered. So when you have too many players that you want to play, that's a good thing. 

"That is a far cry from where we were last year. Last year we were clamoring for any offense we could get early in the year and this year it's been a little different."

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