Nola hopes injury woes are behind him

Nola hopes injury woes are behind him

PITTSBURGH -- Aaron Nola hopes this is his last hiccup for a while.

He rejoins the Phillies' rotation Sunday afternoon in the series finale against the Pirates at PNC Park. Nola has spent one month on the disabled list recovering from a strained lower back. He missed most of the second half of last season because of a low-grade sprain of his UCL and a low-grade strain of his flexor pronator tendon in his right elbow.

"I just want to stay healthy right now and pitch every fifth day," Nola said on Saturday afternoon. "That's my main goal. I know it hasn't worked out how I wanted it to work out the last couple times, but I'm still going to strive to be healthy."

Nola went 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA in three starts before the back injury. He picked up some velocity with his four-seam fastball, averaging 92.7 mph compared to 90.9 mph last season. But he also threw fewer first-pitch strikes (56.5 percent to 63.9 percent in his first two seasons) and had a lower strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.50 to 4.17 in his first two seasons).

"I feel like before the back injury everything was coming together," Nola said. "My delivery was still pretty good at the time and my pitches were feeling good. I just want to get back to where I was before."

Nola went 11-6 with a 3.12 ERA in 25 career starts through June 10 last season. Nola believes he will return to form if he stays healthy.

"I'm back to being normal again," he said. "It's going to feel good."

Hellickson says he's OK

Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson said he is OK after leaving Friday night's game in the seventh inning due to a tweak in the right side of his lower back sustained during a swing.

"I feel good," he said Saturday. "I'm fine."

He expects to make his next start.

Hellickson allowed hits to the first two batters he faced Friday, but he did not allow a hit over the next six innings.

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