Sprained knee keeps Phils' Franco sidelined

Sprained knee keeps Phils' Franco sidelined

PHILADELPHIA -- A hobbled Maikel Franco homered after he sprained his right knee Sunday in Washington.

He has not started since, but Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said following Wednesday night's 7-2 loss to the Blue Jays that he expects Franco to start Thursday night.

The Phillies certainly could use Franco. He has hit .270 (10-for-37) with three home runs and five RBIs this month.

"I feel better," Franco said Wednesday. "I hit in the cage today and I felt fine."

Franco pinch-hit in the ninth inning. He struck out on three pitches.

Mackanin also offered injury updates on right-handers Vince Velasquez and Dalier Hinojosa:

Velasquez, who is on the DL with a strained right elbow, played catch in Toronto and felt OK. Obviously, because of his importance to the team's future, the nature of his injury and Velasquez's own health history -- he had Tommy John surgery in 2010 and the Phillies had questions about his physical before acquiring him in December -- the Phillies have no plans to rush him back.

Hinojosa has been on the DL since April 29 because of a bruised right hand. He is scheduled to throw a 30-pitch live-batting-practice session on Friday.

"He's been progressing gradually," Mackanin said. "I'd like to get him back."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.