NEW YORK -- The news is bad, but it could have been much worse.
The Phillies placed Roy Halladay on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with what they call a Grade 1/2 strain of his right latissimus dorsi. He will be sidelined from activity for three weeks, but the Phillies are hopeful he can be pitching again in six to eight weeks.
"We hate to have him down," Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said, "but it's nothing that requires anything other than rest."
That means no torn rotator cuff or labrum. That means no surgery.
"If there's good news from an injury, this is probably good news," Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said.
But it is a blow to a team that has been struggling this season to have a winning record. The Phillies have recalled catcher Erik Kratz to take Halladay's place on the 25-man roster. Vance Worley, who is on the disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow, could take Halladay's spot in the rotation Monday. He threw a bullpen session Tuesday and is scheduled to throw another Friday.
If Worley returns Monday, the Phillies will have Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Joe Blanton, Kyle Kendrick and Worley in the rotation until Halladay returns.
"I'm comfortable with what we got," Dubee said. "Why not?"
Halladay is 4-5 with a 3.98 ERA in 11 starts this season, but 1-3 with a 6.11 ERA in six starts in May. He has not looked like himself since Spring Training, despite his insistence he felt fine. FOX's Ken Rosenthal wrote a story during Spring Training, citing two scouts, that said Halladay lacked velocity and sharpness in his first few Grapefruit League starts. Halladay strongly denied any implications he might not be healthy, but questions about his velocity continued during the regular season.
Halladay pitched well at times, but he hasn't dominated like he had in the past.
"I thought since Spring Training that there was an issue," Dubee admitted. "The ball just hasn't been accelerating through the zone like his stuff does."
Especially his sinker.
"Cutter, too," Dubee said. "His stuff is different than most people's stuff. His stuff from the cut of the grass to the hitting zone was explosive. Now, it is more gradual."
Dubee said he had talked with Halladay about some "crankiness" near his right shoulder for some time, but Halladay said it was nothing serious.
"Then I could tell in his last outing [Sunday in St. Louis], from his body language, that he wasn't close to being right," Dubee said. "So we got him out of there. Hopefully, we caught this thing at a good time -- if there is a good time -- and we can get it strengthened, corrected and get him on the mound."
Of course, one question is why the Phillies did not pull Halladay earlier?
"Guys always have pitched with something," Dubee said. "You don't feel 100 percent very often when you go out there. There are lingering things. I thought that this was a minor lingering thing. We talked, and he thought he could pitch through it. It never got better, and we finally had to stop and see what's going on."
The Phillies aren't sure when the injury happened, if it came on one pitch or happened gradually over time.
"I haven't seen that good stuff since Spring Training, so you wonder," Dubee said. "He pitched a whale of a game on the last day [in Game 5 of the 2011 National League Division Series]. Was it happening then? Did it happen when he started long tossing? You really don't know when it happened. Does it happen over wear and tear? You could throw a lot of things into the equation."
Roy Oswalt just agreed to terms on a contract with the Texas Rangers, so he is no longer an option, if the Phillies were looking at Oswalt to bolster the rotation. In the short term, it looks like the Phillies will pitch with what they have. If something should happen again to Worley or another starter, the Phillies seem likely to have one of their Triple-A starters -- Dave Bush, Scott Elarton or Tyler Cloyd -- fill a spot.
"We'll find a way to piece it together, if that's necessary," Proefrock said. "We'll see how it plays out in the next couple of days. ... We're very fortunate to have Kyle Kendrick in the role that he's been and with the success he's pitched with. If you look at the last couple of years, that's all that he's done. He's filled in when there's been an injury. Jamie Moyer a couple years ago, last year with Oswalt and Joe . He's already been in the rotation this year, first for Cliff and now Vance. And now Roy."
The Phillies are hopeful Halladay can return to prior form with a little rest.
"Halladay's thrown a lot of pitches, man," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He's 35, and he's thrown a lot of bullets over his career. Sooner or later, that's going to catch up with him. I think he's at the point where if he just steps back a little bit, you'll still see that dominant pitcher. I think that he wants to go out there and finish every game. He's everything he's built up to be. What you're seeing is, even the best sometimes have to take a step back and regroup, as far as how he feels."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.