Phillies Notes: Contreras' slow start doesn't worry Dubee

Posted: March 14, 2012

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - With 22 days until opening day, Rich Dubee is well aware Jose Contreras may not be ready.

The Phillies pitching coach doesn't care.

"If it's opening day, it's opening day," Dubee said. "There isn't any rush."

The 40-year-old Contreras appeared in a game Monday for the first time since September elbow surgery. He remains largely a wild card in the bullpen picture because the Phillies are taking a cautious approach with his pitching schedule.

Dubee said Contreras would take two days off before throwing in another minor-league game Thursday. He did not watch Contreras face five batters in a minor-league intrasquad game Monday, but triple-A pitching coach Rod Nichols reported to Dubee that Contreras' arm action was satisfactory.

Whether Contreras can even handle a normal workload is in question. With three weeks of spring training remaining, Dubee did not rule out Contreras' throwing on back-to-back days to test his arm. Then again, he said the team could be better served adopting a conservative plan.

"We'll see where he gets to," Dubee said.

Hamels works

Cole Hamels was the first Phillies starter to complete five innings this spring, and he did it with decent control in a 6-5 loss Tuesday to Houston. Hamels allowed one run on four hits but struck out four and walked none.

He worked more of the curveball, his least-used pitch, into his repertoire.

"I haven't had too many opportunities to throw it," Hamels said. "I wanted to throw at least one or two per inning. A few times, I threw three or four. As my innings build and my pitch counts build, I need to be able to throw it 10 to 20 times a game."

Hamels threw his curveball 10.1 percent of the time in 2011, according to Pitch-f/x data. The bone chips in his left elbow during the season did not restrict any specific pitch, he said.

"My arm was tight," Hamels said. "That can affect everything you're throwing. I don't know how to explain it. It's like being punched in the forearm. My forearm was always tight. That's what limited me from getting more action on other pitches. It was everything in general."

Nix scratched

Laynce Nix was scheduled to make the two-hour trek west Tuesday, but a bruised rib scratched him from Charlie Manuel's lineup.

Nix suffered the injury Sunday when he bowled into Detroit catcher Bryan Holaday at home plate. He played Monday but left after just one at-bat.

The Phillies and Nix do not believe the injury is serious. In his place, Luis Montanez served as the designated hitter and went 2 for 3 with an RBI.

Extra bases

Michael Martinez suffered a right-elbow bruise after being hit by an errant pickoff throw in the fifth inning. He left the game. Later, with his elbow wrapped, Martinez said it was feeling better. . . . Dontrelle Willis threw a bullpen session, and Dubee said he could return to game action Thursday or Friday. . . . The Phillies lost on a 10th-inning walk-off home run by Brian Bixler off Jeremy Horst. They are 5-6-1 this spring.


Phillies Notes:

Jose Contreras remains a wild card in Phillies bullpen. D6.


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

 

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