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03/05/12 5:14 PM ET

Phils taking their time with Utley, Polanco

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies said last month they planned to bring along Chase Utley and Placido Polanco slowly in Spring Training.

They meant it.

Polanco, who had sports hernia surgeries after last season, made his Grapefruit League debut in Monday's 9-3 win over the New York Yankees at Bright House Field. He went 2-for-3 with one RBI. Utley, who has a chronic right knee condition, has not played so far and might not play for at least another week.

"It's going to be a while yet," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said that was part of their original plan.

"We talked about him not playing for the first week or two weeks," he said of Utley. "We're going to ease him into it. We know he'll be ready when the bell rings. We just want to make sure he's as fresh and as healthy as he can possibly be on Opening Day."

So Utley is healthy then?

"He seems fine," Amaro said. "We're just taking things slowly with him. There's no reason to start putting the pounding on his knees that typically he would have during this time. There's no reason to start that process now when we can start it a little bit later on."

Polanco said he sees benefits to the way he is being handled this spring.

"If you don't play every day, it's not a problem," he said. "I don't have a long swing, so it doesn't really take a lot of at-bats for me to get ready. ... I've been very happy about the way I've been feeling. I haven't felt anything."

Thome almost homers as DH

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Jim Thome came close to hitting his first Grapefruit League home run when he doubled to right-center field in the fourth inning Monday in a 9-3 victory over the Yankees at Bright House Field.

Thome has been the Phillies' designated hitter in two of the team's first three games. He is expected to play first base at some point, but Phillies manager Charlie Manuel plans to have Thome first play some innings in Minor League Spring Training games.

Those games begin March 12.

Phils relievers Herndon, Elarton impress

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies right-hander David Herndon threw two scoreless innings in Monday's 9-3 victory over the Yankees at Bright House Field.

Herndon is one of a handful of candidates competing for one or two available jobs in an already-crowded bullpen.

Right-hander Scott Elarton got four ground-ball outs and struck out one batter in two perfect innings. Elarton is trying to make a comeback. He has not pitched in the big leagues since 2008 because of a right foot injury. Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee thought Elarton threw the ball well for his first time on the mound.

Worth noting

Laynce Nix has been bothered by a tweaked groin, but Manuel said he could play in the field as early as Tuesday. ... Phillies right-hander Justin De Fratus made roughly 40 throws from 60 feet on Monday. De Fratus has been sidelined this spring because of soreness in his right elbow. He does not have a timetable for his possible return to the mound.

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