Photo by Cheryl Pursell

Pitcher Alec Asher is moving closer to returning after a suspension for violating Major League Baseball's substance abuse policy.

Right-hander Alec Asher, who has missed a big chunk of the season after being suspended for a banned substance, will start a 16-day rehab assignment with the Gulf Coast League Phillies on Thursday.

The last time that Alec Asher pitched in a game was May 17 when he was with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. His season had a major hiccup after that, first because he was hit by a groundball in that game and was placed on the DL with what was initially termed a calf contusion. Shortly after going on the DL at Triple-A, Asher was hit with an 80-game suspension after testing positive for a banned substance.

Asher is eligible to come off of the suspension list on September 8, but the policy states that a player can start a minor league rehab assignment 16 days prior to being eligible to come off of the suspension.

Phillies director of player development, Joe Jordan announced Monday that Asher will begin his rehab assignment Tuesday with a start for the Gulf Coast League Phillies.

"He starts his rehab tomorrow in the Gulf Coast League, so he gets on a mound tomorrow and we're just going to progress him up. We're trying to get him ready to pitch wherever we need him, including the major leagues, possibly, in September, if we need a fresh arm. He's healthy and he's ready to go," said Jordan about Asher's status.

The minor league season ends September 4th, so in an ideal situation, Asher would pitch somewhere on the 4th and then be able to pitch either in the majors, or possibly, fill a hole in a minor league rotation for the playoffs.

Asher made seven starts for the Phillies late last season and went 0-6 with a 9.31 ERA. This season in the minors, he was a combined 4-2, 2.30 in eight starts - four each with Reading and Lehigh Valley - prior to the injury and subsequent suspension.

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