Roy Halladay throws for first time since lat muscle injury

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Roy Halladay still has a long way to go in his recovery from a strained right lat muscle, but he took a small step in the right direction today.

Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that Halladay played catch with Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee this afternoon at Rogers Centre. It was his first time throwing since being shut down after leaving a start against the Cardinals on May 27.

Halladay made a total of 30 tosses from a distance of 60 feet and plans to do the same Sunday.

“I felt good,” he said. “This is one of the steps. It was good. The other [steps] have been good so far, so we’ll go from there.”

Halladay was originally expected to be shut down for three whole weeks, so he’s actually a couple days ahead of schedule right now. Barring any setbacks this weekend, the veteran right-hander plans to pick up the intensity of his throwing on Tuesday.

The original timetable had Halladay missing 6-8 weeks, so he could rejoin the Phillies’ rotation by the end of July if he can remain on schedule.

Marlins option Tom Koehler to Triple-A, recall Hunter Cervenka

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Long-time rotation mainstay Tom Koehler was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans on Monday and reliever Hunter Cervenka was recalled, the Marlins announced.

Koehler, 31, made 131 starts out of the Marlins’ rotation over the last five years, but his 12 this season have not been good, so the club hopes he can figure things out with a stint in the minors. He’s carrying a 7.92 ERA with a 44/29 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. Koehler battled bursitis in his right shoulder in May and June, which may partially explain his struggles.

Cervenka, 27, posted a 4.50 ERA with a 34/21 K/BB ratio in 34 innings of relief with New Orleans. He hasn’t pitched in the majors yet this season, but compiled a 3.53 ERA over 43 1/3 innings in the bigs last year in the Marlins’ bullpen.

Nationals, Dodgers, and Red Sox are interested in Pat Neshek

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At the trade deadline, relief pitching is the name of the game and one of the names clearly available is Pat Neshek. Today Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the Nationals, Dodgers, and Red Sox are among the clubs who are closely scouting the Phillies reliever. Last week Ken Rosenthal reported that the Brewers and Rays were involved as well.

Neshek is an impending free agent, so he may come cheaper than Justin Wilson or some of the other bullpen arms available right now. The All-Star is 36 and is posting a fantastic season, featuring a 1.12 ERA and 45/5 K/BB ratio over 40.1 innings this season.