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03/24/11 5:05 PM ET

Hamels left frustrated after latest start

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels was frustrated with himself following Thursday's start against the Minnesota Twins at Bright House Field.

He allowed nine hits, six runs and two home runs in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out seven.

Hamels has a 6.75 ERA this spring, but he has never been a great Spring Training performer.

"A few times I didn't throw pitches with any conviction," Hamels said. "I had two different pitches I could have thrown, and just agreed on one half-heartedly. I didn't really go out there and give everything I had. I have to focus on whatever pitch is called or I believe in, and go with it 100 percent.

"I should be a lot smarter, or at least more prepared, right now. I don't think I was."

Hamels will face the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday in an exhibition game at Citizens Bank Park. He is scheduled to make his 2011 regular-season debut April 5 against the New York Mets.

"I don't know if I really accomplished much," Hamels said of his spring. "Physically, I feel strong. I still have a few things I have to work out. It better be sooner than later. I want to compete at the highest level. To do that you have to work hard and give everything you have. This is kind of one of those gut checks."

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel isn't worried about Hamels.

"It's only a matter of time," he said.

Utley not expected to be ready by Opening Day

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Opening Day is eight days away, and Chase Utley has been unable to run or field ground balls since February.

Do the math and it is obvious he will open the season on the disabled list.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. essentially said so before Thursday's Grapefruit League game against the Minnesota Twins at Bright House Field. Utley is sidelined indefinitely with patellar tendinitis, chondromalacia and bone inflammation in his right knee.

"I would think so," said Amaro, asked if he expects Utley to open the season on the DL. "We haven't seen him on the field yet and we're a week away. It's likely he's not going to be making our club, at least not right now."

Amaro said Utley will accompany the team to Philadelphia on Monday.

Is he improving?

"Nothing new," Amaro said. "I think he feels better. We'll see. It's kind of a long-term process. It's not going to happen overnight."

Utley has not said much about his chronic knee pain since March 9, although he said last week he is "moving in the right direction."

Lidge returns to mound with mixed results

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies closer Brad Lidge pitched Thursday in his first Grapefruit League game since March 11.

It could have gone better.

Lidge, who had been sidelined because of right biceps tendinitis, faced six batters in the ninth inning in a 7-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins at Bright House Field. He allowed two hits, one run, two walks and one home run in two-thirds of an inning. He struck out two.

"He hadn't been out there in a while," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

Lidge, who was unavailable to comment, has eight days to get ready for Opening Day on April 1.

"We'll see what happens," Manuel said. "We'll see where he's at. If he's not ready to go out there, he'll let us know. The way he pitches will kind of tell us, too."

If Lidge is unable to go, Ryan Madson is the likely closer.

Polanco says he'll return to lineup Friday

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco said he will be back in the lineup Friday.

He has been sidelined since March 15 with a hyperextended left elbow. Polanco said he no longer feels any pain or discomfort in the elbow, and he thought he could play Thursday. In fact, when he walked up to the lineup card posted in the Phillies clubhouse, he took out a pen and wrote his name into the lineup.

One problem with it: He was hitting 10th.

He should be hitting much higher in the lineup Friday.

Front office has a gas on recent road trip

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies coaches and front office personnel meet every morning at Bright House Field to discuss players and other happenings in camp.

But Thursday they presented a gas can to Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock.

Phillies front office officials make every Grapefruit League road game. They typically alternate driving, and Proefrock drove his rental car Wednesday to Port Charlotte, Fla., which is roughly 1 hour, 40 minutes from Clearwater. He had Phillies president David Montgomery, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., pro scouting director Mike Ondo and Jesse Rendell, the son of former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, in the car.

Proefrock had been making good time to Port Charlotte, until the car ran out of gas roughly 20 miles from Charlotte Sports Park.

He called AAA for help. The group arrived to the game in the fifth inning.

"I'm more than willing to do a PSA for AAA this year," Proefrock said.

"That was a first," Amaro said.

The group happily made it back to Clearwater without running out of gas, although the Phillies' official pregame notes said Proefrock asked for $1 to pay a toll because he does not have Sun Pass.

Worth noting

Phillies second baseman Luis Castillo went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts Thursday. He is hitless in eight at-bats with the Phillies. He helped turn a double play against the Twins. "He played good defense," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. ... Manuel said he should be close to his Opening Day lineup next week when the Phillies play the Pittsburgh Pirates in two exhibition games at Citizens Bank Park. He remains concerned about filling the spots of injured Chase Utley and departed Jayson Werth in the lineup. "We've got two holes there," he said. "And we're also asking guys to come back that had off years last year." ... Manuel called right-hander Kyle Kendrick "a prime candidate" to win a job in the Phillies' bullpen.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.