PHILADELPHIA -- Ryan Howard answered questions about his recovery from left Achilles surgery after batting practice Wednesday, but Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock also offered several updates on other injured Phillies:

• Roy Halladay (strained right latissimus dorsi). Halladay is throwing off flat ground and is getting closer to throwing off the mound. "There will probably be something of that nature happening over the course of the next week, if he continues to feel good," Proefrock said.

• Mike Stutes (right shoulder inflammation). He had surgery on his shoulder Tuesday, ending his 2011 season. The surgery essentially cleaned out his labrum and rotator cuff, and he will not pick up a baseball for 12 weeks. But Proefrock said Stutes should be ready for Spring Training 2013.

• Laynce Nix (strained left calf). He could begin a rehab assignment sometime in the next week to 10 days, although he still feels some tightness in the calf.

Domonic Brown (sprained left knee). The expectation is he could be playing again in two to three weeks.

Worth noting

• Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said Cliff Lee will pitch Friday's series opener in Miami. Cole Hamels will start Saturday.

• Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz are expected to have Thursday's series finale against the Pirates off. Placido Polanco, who got a day off Wednesday, is expected to be in the lineup.

• The Phillies optioned left-hander Joe Savery to Triple-A Lehigh Valley following Wednesday's 11-7 loss. He was 0-2 with a 5.87 ERA in 17 appearances. The Phillies were 0-17 in games Savery pitched. The Phillies said they will make a corresponding move to replace Savery on the roster Thursday.

• Carlos Ruiz homered in the first inning. He has eight hits in his last 13 at-bats.

• Juan Pierre collected his 500th career RBI in the seventh inning.