Originally written on Phillies Nation  |  Last updated 10/29/14
Pujolshoward

-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.

HOWARD AHEAD OF SCHEDULE

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.

THOME IN AWESOME SHAPE

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.

UTLEY WILL BE RESTED

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?

CONTRERAS TO THROW

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.

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