Originally written on Phillies Nation  |  Last updated 2/27/12
Indians_vs_white_0af7

Jose Contreras may be ready for Opening Day after season-ending elbow surgery in 2011.

It seemed that every time Jose Contreras’s name was mentioned last summer, it preceded the word “setback.” That he arrived in Clearwater last week feeling good and has taken legitimate steps toward recovering from a balky elbow has been an extremely pleasant surprise for the Phillies, who suddenly have a wealth of late-inning relief options.

Contreras threw again Monday after two days of rest and signs were positive enough that there is now a chance he could be ready for Opening Day. When asked about Big Truck, Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said “He’s where we hoped he’d be at, that’s always good to see.”

What does a healthy Contreras mean?

Well, should Contreras make the Phils’ Opening Day 25-man roster, he, Chad Qualls and Antonio Bastardo figure to fight for a setup role that would probably be best served going to the hottest hand or the best matchup.

A side effect of Contreras being ready for April 5 in Pittsburgh would be fierce competition for the final bullpen spot among the Phillies’ plethora of young relievers. Prior to the ink drying on Qualls’ one-year deal, it looked as though Michael Stutes and Justin De Fratus were locks for the Opening Day roster and Michael Schwimer, Phillippe Aumont, Joel Pineiro and David Herndon would compete for the 12th spot on the pitching staff.

With Contreras healthy, Stutes, De Fratus, Schwimer, Aumont, Pineiro and Herndon would all be competing for one spot. All of this assumes the Phillies begin the season with 13 position players and 12 pitchers.

Though Contreras’s presence might stunt the short-term growth of the Phils’ young arms, this isn’t a Danys Baez-type of situation where an older, lesser option is being given a roster spot simply because of his price tag. Contreras is due $2.5 million in 2012 and either $2.5 million in 2013 or a $500,000 buyout, but when healthy he has been worth every penny.

In 2010, Contreras struck out almost four times as many batters as he walked, limited the opposition to a .249 batting average and induced a swing-and-miss on 10.5 percent of his pitches. Those were elite numbers that appeared to carry over into 2011 until elbow problems took miles per hour off Contreras’ fastball and messed with his previously pinpoint control.

Contreras’s presence at the back-end of the bullpen wasn’t something many Phillies fans were expecting in 2012, and too often since 2009 have Phillies injury updates been negative. It’s nice to get a positive report every once in a while.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Kobe Bryant not sure if 2015-16 is his final NBA season

Report: Arian Foster could be headed to injured reserve

Ari Fleischer: Belichick 'can get away with' shutting down media

RG3 on team's expectatons: Not asking me to be Superman

Bills' Kromer issues suspension statement without apology

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Patriots restructure Rob Gronkowski's contract

Agent: Rory McIlroy not booked for PGA Championship practice

Tom Brady, NFL to appear before judge on August 12

Report: Bradford, Eagles hope to sign short-term extension

Aaron Rodgers: TV networks have ‘too much access’

Adrian Beltre completes cycle, gets mad when assaulted

Houston Astros have altered their fate

Kris Bryant on changing to feet-first slide: ‘I only have one head’

Gronk, Big Papi go 'country' in latest Dunkin Donuts video

Phillies showing signs of future success

Mortensen on false Deflategate report: Still figuring Twitter out

Sheldon Richardson is down, but is he out?

Would Phil Jackson have taken Towns or Okafor first overall?

Seven Big 12 Heisman candidates for 2015

Will Manziel be good enough to be Browns’ backup plan?

Cowboys exec on Dez fight: 'I do think it's a good thing'

Baseball season in New York has been better than expected

WATCH: Giants players fight during training camp

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Kris Bryant on changing to feet-first slide: ‘I only have one head’

MLB season in NY better than expected

Adrian Beltre gets mad when assaulted after HR

Lindsey Vonn shows support for Tiger

Notre Dame doesn't need a conference

Rex takes jabs at Jets' management

Sanchez: It's 'crazy' to call Chip racist

Ronda Rousey calls out Cyborg

Five most underrated players in the NFL

Five potential NFL salary cap casualties this preseason

Winners and losers of the 2015 MLB trade deadline

Pirates do Pirates at deadline: Neat little moves

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker