CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Sometime soon, Phillies ace Roy Halladay will receive his scouting report on the Pittsburgh Pirates and begin preparation for his Opening Day start against them Thursday at PNC Park.
He is more than ready to pitch in some meaningful games again.
Halladay pitched two innings Saturday in an 8-5 loss to the Blue Jays in a Grapefruit League game at Bright House Field. He had been scheduled to pitch longer, but a 37-minute rain delay cut his afternoon short. Halladay made up for the lost time throwing about 15 more pitches in the batting cage under the left-field stands.
Halladay went 1-2 with a 5.73 ERA in six Grapefruit League starts. He never had higher than a 4.00 ERA in his previous six Spring Trainings, which might give some jittery Phillies fans a moment of pause only because of a report earlier this spring that Halladay isn't throwing as hard as in the past and the already existing concerns about the health of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.
The Phillies can hardly afford to have Halladay struggle.
But nobody inside the organization seems worried, especially Halladay.
"It's the same," Halladay said, asked how he felt compared to previous springs. "You can go out and have five guys hit balls straight into the ground and everybody is talking about how good you look. The older you get, I've said it a couple times, just being able to self-evaluate where I'm at. You've got to be honest with yourself, good or bad. There were a lot of things this spring that I wasn't real thrilled with. But there were things I was happy with too. It's a balance of knowing what you need and being able to know where you're at and where you need to be.
"I feel good with where I'm at. For the most part, I feel like everything was effective. ... I'm happy with everything. The last week is always tough. I'm looking forward to a change of scenery. I've been here since December, so I'm ready."
Said Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee: "Doc was fine. I thought his last three outings he picked it up quite a bit."
Halladay will make his second start of the season April 11 against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. Right-hander Joe Blanton, who enters the season as the team's fifth starter, will be pushed back, although how far has not been announced.
Injuries to Contreras, Stutes shape bullpen
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies say they have no feel for how their 25-man roster will look Opening Day.
In reality, they do. They simply are not ready to make an announcement.
They have until 5 p.m. ET Wednesday to make everything official, and things are still changing. It looks more and more like right-handers Jose Contreras and Mike Stutes could open the season on the disabled list, which would seem to solidify one spot in the bullpen for right-hander David Herndon and another spot in the bullpen for either left-hander Raul Valdes or left-hander Joe Savery.
"He'll probably start on the DL," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said of Contreras before Saturday's Grapefruit League game against the Blue Jays at Bright House Field.
Contreras is coming back from right elbow surgery, but the Phillies said he needs more time to get ready. Because he has not pitched in a Grapefruit League game since March 25, he can be activated April 10. But the Phillies do not have a game scheduled that day, so he could be back as early as April 11, when they play the second game in a three-game series against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.
Contreras will remain in Clearwater and continue pitching in Minor League Spring Training games until he is ready.
"It's close," Amaro said.
Stutes has not pitched since March 27 because of stiffness in his right shoulder. He long tossed Saturday and is scheduled to long toss again Sunday. Amaro said Stutes could pitch in a Minor League Spring Training game "in the next few days," but nothing has been decided.
"We'll see," Amaro said.
The Phillies could give Stutes a little more time to recover, put him on the DL to start the season and bring him back on the 11th, forcing him to miss only the first four games of the season.
"I feel like I'm good enough to go, but that's why we have doctors and they're good at what they do," Stutes said. "The players aren't always the best at being able to rein it in, you know? I'm ready to get the season started. I've been looking forward to it since Oct. 6 or whenever it was we played the Cardinals."
So for the moment there appear to be only four locks for the bullpen: closer Jonathan Papelbon, right-handers Chad Qualls and Kyle Kendrick, and left-hander Antonio Bastardo. If the Phillies open the season with just 11 pitchers they would have two spots available in the bullpen. If they carry 12, they would have three spots.
Contreras, Herndon, Savery, Stutes and Valdes are the only remaining relievers in camp.
Herndon has a 3.00 ERA in 15 innings this spring. Valdes is 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA in 12 2/3 innings. Savery is 1-1 with 3.24 ERA in 8 1/3 innings.
"It's a good race," Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said of Valdes and Savery.
Home run a good sign from Mayberry
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies need John Mayberry Jr. to come up big while Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are sidelined indefinitely with injuries.
He is one of the only healthy hitters on the roster with pure power. If he hits well it would take pressure off others like Hunter Pence, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco.
Mayberry snapped an 0-for-19 skid in the seventh inning Saturday against the Blue Jays at Bright House Field, when he homered to left field. It was Mayberry's first homer of the spring.
"You're going to struggle sometimes and you're going to go through periods where you go 0-for-15 or 0-for-20 or something," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He's been doing some things wrong at the plate. His approach hasn't been good. He hasn't been loading up. Today when he homered, he went up there and he did better. He kept his hands up above the ball and loaded up and put a good swing on the ball."
Phillies sign Blanco to Minor League deal
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies continued their search for more infield depth on Saturday, when they signed infielder Andres Blanco to a Minor League contract.
He has hit .255 with three home runs and 47 RBIs in 235 games for the Royals, White Sox and Rangers. The Nationals recently released him.
"Pretty good defensive middle infielder," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "He's going to help those guys in [Triple-A] Lehigh Valley."
Amaro said the Phillies will keep their minds open to finding a veteran infielder to provide the team depth at the big league level. The Giants recently released infielder Mike Fontenot, but a source said the Phillies are not interested.
"We'd be comfortable with the people we have here right now," Amaro said.
• Ryan Howard, who is recovering from an infection near his left Achilles, is not ready to begin running because his wound still needs to completely heal. He continues to do strength exercises and cardio workouts. There is no timetable for his return.
Howard and Chase Utley, who is recovering from a chronic knee injury, will travel with the team to Philadelphia following Sunday's Grapefruit League game against the Braves in Lake Buena Vista, but are expected to return to Clearwater to continue their rehab. "He's doing OK," Amaro said of Utley. "Nothing new really."
• Right-hander Vance Worley will pitch in a simulated game in Clearwater on Monday. He is scheduled to pitch April 8 against the Pirates at PNC Park.
• Infielder Michael Martinez (broken left foot) and right-hander Justin De Fratus (right elbow tightness) will continue their rehab work in Clearwater.
• Left-hander Antonio Bastardo had lacked velocity recently, but the Phillies were encouraged with his performance Friday night against the Yankees in Tampa. "It's seems he's kicked it in gear a little," pitching coach Rich Dubee said.
• The Phillies announced a record 157,892 fans at Bright House Field this spring.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.