Clearwater Notes: Howard Progressing, Utley Resting – Phillies Nation
2012 Spring Training

Clearwater Notes: Howard Progressing, Utley Resting

-As you know, Kyle Kendrick has signed a two-year contract to stick around with the team. Ruben Amaro Jr. has often times talked about cost certainty, and this signing seems to fall within that category.

Howard is progressing nicely.


As the beats have announced today from Clearwater (we are not there, but will be for a week in March), Ryan Howard is ahead of schedule according to Charlie Manuel. He’s is schedule to take swings within the next few days. This is fantastic news, although it should be taken with a large heap of caution.

The Phillies will not rush Howard back if they don’t have to. They should be able to stay afloat long enough. David Hale of the Wilmington News Journal says mid-May and I happen to agree with that. Although, Chase Utley was back earlier than expected last year (probably because no one had any timetable on him), this injury is more serious. Howard is a big boy and needs that achillies for the long-haul. No rush.


There has been a lot of talk – most notably from Jonathan Papelbon – that Jim Thome might be in the best shape anyone has ever seen. It appears Thome is serious about playing a couple of days a week at first base. Jim Jam will get at least 100 at-bats as a pinch hitter, perhaps more, according to Charlie Manuel. The Phillies skipper is hoping for 200 total AB’s for the season.

Again, it remains to be seen how much Thome can give, but if he’s in that sort of shape, it’s only a positive.


Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. The Phillies plan on lightening Chase Utley’s load during Spring Training, keeping him and his knee fresh for the long season ahead.

It’s obviously the right move, and really the only move. No sense in having Utley overwork that leg in meaningless ballgames. If he didn’t appear in half the Spring Training games on the Phillies schedule, I’m not sure anyone would care. It looks like the team is taking a very cautious approach…finally. However, he’ll still need plenty of rest during the regular season, too.

If we set the over/under at 140 games for Utley during the regular season, which bet would you place?


Jose Contreras hasn’t thrown off a mound yet, but that day seems to be approaching. As you know, Contreras missed much of last year with elbow trouble, and has begun a throwing program. He’ll likely throw from in front of the mound on Monday. If they can get this guy 100% healthy for the season, this bullpen could be quite formidable. All about health.

Reports from The Philadelphia Inquirer and Wilmington News Journal were used.

Click to comment


  1. Brandon Conver

    February 19, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    ill take the over on utley and say they play him 150-155 games barring injury

  2. Chris

    February 19, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    I wonder how many people are in the best shape of their life going into Spring Training.

    • Pat Gallen

      February 19, 2012 at 6:10 pm

      I’m not sure this is always the case. Thome probably went way harder this offseason knowing he might have to play a little 1B.

    • Chris

      February 19, 2012 at 6:34 pm

      I think that’s a very real possibility it’s just funny how many “best shape of their life” stories you here every year at this time.

      • Jeff Dowder

        February 20, 2012 at 12:36 am

        I’m sure Thome is in great shape, but the guy is 41 and hasn’t played even semi-regularly in the field since 2005. It’s a great story if he can do it, but realistically it’s a long-shot.

  3. Jeff Dowder

    February 19, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    All across the country, the two most reported baseball stories over the next few weeks will be “Player X is in the best shape of his life” and “Player Y is way ahead of his rehab schedule”. Just sayin’…

  4. Brian Sr. of CO

    February 19, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    Not sure what to make of the Utley thing. Last year I said it was probably just precautionary, and he will be fine for Opening Day. We will see. If this year is different, then great! Over/Under 140? Damn near 14 I would say. Granted the report is correct, and they are just going light because of last season, and not because of a re-occurance, I would say over, but only by a SMALL number of games. say 141. Howard? Do NOT rush him, which then leads to Thome. Who cares if a large number of organizations will be saying that about aging players. If it is correct, Pat said it best. “it’s only a positive.” I am sure the Tigers fans are happy to see the same report about Miguel Cabrera. We shall see if Thome’s back can hold up for a game or 2 a week, but if he really has worked harder to get in shape, thats great, and should help his back and his play/hitting regardless.

  5. Mazinman

    February 19, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    Great first base news all around. The more days Thome can play first in any given week before Howard comes back the better I will feel. He is the best option offensively out of all of the potential players who can be in that position.

    Utley resting depends lot of the first base situation. The more offense we can get out of that position the more we can let Chase get a day off every now and then. The moment Cliff Lee goes into one of his unhittable streaks then let the guys get some rest.

  6. The Original Chuck P

    February 20, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Such a wonderful time of year…

    I said this last year and I’ll say it again – lack of health is the only thing that can de-rail this train. If our pitching stays healthy, we are NOT playing to get into the postseason… we’re playing to win a championship. We can coast into the postseason with Doc, Lee and Hamels… I don’t care how pretty it looks getting there, we have to be healthy once we’re in.

    I think that the team mishandled the final weeks of the season. I think that they were asking guys to do too much in meaningless games to reach 100 wins. I hope that last year serves as an example of what NOT to do this year.

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