Originally posted on Phillies Nation  |  Last updated 2/27/12

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

Another young 49er, Kaleb Ramsey, retires from NFL

Saints GM: Drew Brees’ contract situation is not a ‘distraction’

Tim Tebow: ‘I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in’

Olympic athletes warned about Rio's 'human crap' waters

T.J. Ward: Broncos defense doesn’t care who’s playing QB

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Tokyo already dealing with rising costs for 2020 Olympics

Bears first-round pick Leonard Floyd carted off practice field

Report: Bills and Tyrod Taylor continue to talk extension

Report: Title contender planning to poach Curry from Warriors

Fitzpatrick on negotiations: I wouldn’t wish it on anybody

NBA players to fund health insurance for former players

Royals want to package Ian Kennedy, Wade Davis in trades

The new era of WWE SmackDown has liftoff

Vlade Divac: Cousins ‘most dominant player in the world’

Wild offer to make Prince's 'Let's Go Crazy' new goal song

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

Canucks don't dismiss acquiring player with past issues

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ordered to pay $900K to auction house

Six potential landing spots for Nick Foles

Jack Nicklaus puzzled by Tiger Woods' woes, golf absence

Brown responds to Marshall's high-stakes challenge

Seven most mind-boggling NFL contracts of 2016

Is Jackie Bradley Jr. the Red Sox’s MVP?

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

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

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