Phillies Notes: Veterans play key roles for Phillies

throws during a minor-league game in his first outing of the spring. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer.
throws during a minor-league game in his first outing of the spring. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer. (Jose Contreras)
Posted: March 13, 2012

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Jose Contreras had the satisfaction of not being the oldest player in Phillies minor-league camp Monday. That distinction belonged to 41-year-old Jim Thome, who swung at the first pitch from the 40-year-old Cuban and grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.

Contreras pitched in a game for the first time since September elbow surgery. The results were encouraging, even though it was an intrasquad minor-league game. He threw 21 pitches (14 strikes) and faced five batters. The next step could be an appearance in a Grapefruit League game.

"I'm ready," Contreras said.

Team officials have been bullish on Contreras' availability for opening day, and Monday was another affirmation. Contreras said he did not know where or when he will pitch next. There are plenty of reasons for skepticism given his age and inability to handle a heavy workload early in 2011.

Against the minor-leaguers, he struck out one and hit another but said his splitter and slider felt right. His fastball command was "so-so," but Contreras was pleased overall.

"I opened my shoulder a little bit," he said. "I feel good. I'm happy."

Worley dominates

Vance Worley got mad, then got some strikeouts. The second-year righthander said he spent the last four days stewing over a lackluster Grapefruit League debut in which he gave up a couple of runs.

On Monday, he had no such qualms, striking out eight in four perfect innings against the Pirates.

"I sat on my couch for four days and thought about my last start and basically said, 'I'm better than that,' " Worley said. "I wasn't going to let it happen again."

Worley will enter the regular season as the team's fourth or fifth starter, but he refuses to take that for granted."I don't want to say I'm worried," he said. "But nothing is guaranteed. You have to earn it."

Willis is better

The clock is ticking on Dontrelle Willis' chance at making the Phillies as a lefthanded reliever. He last pitched Wednesday, and complained of arm soreness then.

But Willis believes he'll be back on the mound shortly. He threw long toss Monday morning and could throw a live batting practice session Tuesday as long as the arm soreness does not recur. And if that goes well, he could pitch in a Grapefruit League game as early as Thursday.

"I feel great," Willis said. "They have me doing some things to keep me strong. It's actually a blessing in disguise. "

Willis has pitched 12/3 innings and allowed five runs on five hits with three walks and no strikeouts.

Nix hurt

Laynce Nix looks like a linebacker, and on Sunday he hit like a linebacker, bowling over Tigers catcher John Holaday during a play at the plate. Problem is, Nix played quarterback in high school, which might help to explain the pain in his rib cage that he awoke to Monday.

"It just feels like a bruised rib," said Nix, who started Monday's game against the Pirates but left after one at-bat.

Extra bases

Hector Luna replaced Nix and hit a home run in the fourth inning. . . . Domonic Brown scored a run with a pinch-hit triple in his only at-bat. He will start Tuesday for the first time in eight days in Kissimmee, Fla., against Houston. . . . The Pirates were hitless until the seventh inning, when Gorkys Hernandez hit an infield single off David Herndon. . . . Cole Hamels will make his third start of the spring Tuesday.


Phillies Notes:

Inside

Jose Contreras pitched in a game for the first time since a September elbow surgery. D6.


Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com or follow him on Twitter @magelb

Daily News staff writer David Murphy contributed to this report.

 

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