PHILADELPHIA -- The numbers are far from eye-popping, but five games is not much of a sample size.

But Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he likes what he has seen so far from Placido Polanco, who entered Thursday's series finale against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park hitting .222 (4-for-18) with one RBI, one walk and three strikeouts.

"He's playing better," Manuel said. "He's been swinging pretty good."

The Phils have said they will be careful with Polanco, who has been on the disabled list the past two seasons with left elbow inflammation, lower back inflammation and a sports hernia. But so far, he has held up well.

"We monitored him in Spring Training and we'll keep monitoring him here, too," Manuel said. "I'll definitely watch him. He'll get some time off every now and then, too."

Kendrick adjusting to late-inning relief role

PHILADELPHIA -- Over the past several seasons, the Phillies typically have kept a long man in their bullpen.

It is a role Kyle Kendrick served last season.

But his role is changing. He pitched in consecutive games for the first time in his career over the weekend against the Pirates at PNC Park. He pitched the bottom of the eighth inning Saturday and the bottom of the seventh Sunday. In 1 1/3 innings, he allowed one hit and one run.

Kendrick could see more action in late-inning situations this year.

"We've got to give him enough mound time to keep him sharp," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "I think before we were looking for a bunch of right-handers to come up there, but now he is equally effective against lefties."

Left-handers hit .320 with a .913 OPS against Kendrick from 2007-10, while right-handers hit .258 with a .700 OPS against him. But after improving upon his secondary pitches last season, most notably his changeup, left-handers hit .234 with a .763 OPS against him, while right-handers hit .270 with a .708 OPS.

"It's been all right," Kendrick said of pitching in short relief. "It was a little different pitching back-to-back, but it was fine."

Kendrick said the biggest difference is the adrenaline spike warming up in the bullpen in a close game. It is a slower process as a starter.

"You have to try to calm your adrenaline a little bit," he said.

Worth noting

• Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, who is recovering from an infection following complications from left Achilles surgery, is scheduled to see a wound specialist at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital on Monday.

• Right-hander Jose Contreras allowed three hits, one run and struck out two in one inning Thursday in a rehab appearance with Class A Clearwater.

• Roy Halladay improved to 190-92 (.674) in his career with Wednesday's win over Miami. Elias Sports Bureau said Halladay is the 10th pitcher to reach the 190-win mark with 92 or fewer losses. He is just the fourth pitcher to accomplish the feat in the post-World War II era. The others are Whitey Ford (190-74) in 1963, Juan Marichal (190-87) in '69 and Pedro Martinez (190-78) in 2005.

• Jim Thome has 96 home runs with the Phillies. If he hits four more with the Phils, he will become the fourth player in baseball history to have 100 or more home runs with three different teams. Thome hit more than 100 home runs for both the Indians and White Sox earlier in his career. The others are Alex Rodriguez (Mariners, Rangers and Yankees), Reggie Jackson (A's, Yankees, Angels) and Darrell Evans (Braves, Giants, Tigers).