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.

Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title

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The Marlins announced on Sunday that outfielder Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title when the city of Miami host’s the All-Star Game festivities next month.

Stanton, 27, defeated Todd Frazier in the finals of last year’s Home Run Derby at Petco Park, hitting 20 home runs to Frazier’s 13. Stanton hit a total of 61 home runs in the Derby. This will be the third Home Run Derby in which Stanton has participated.

Stanton also went 1-for-3 with a solo home run to help the Marlins defeat the Cubs 4-2 on Sunday. He’s now batting .274/.357/.551 with 20 home runs and 49 RBI in 311 plate appearances.

Aaron Hicks to go on the disabled list with an oblique injury

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.

Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.

Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.