04/11/12 11:20 PM ET
Phils give updates on improving Howard, Utley
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
But general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. offered an update on both before Wednesday's game against the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.
Howard, who is recovering from an infection following left Achilles surgery, visited foot and ankle specialist Mark Myerson on Tuesday in Baltimore. Amaro said Howard's Achilles is "doing great." But the first baseman still has a wound in the back of his left heel following the surgical procedure that removed sutures that had not properly dissolved and caused an infection.
"It's not all the way healed," Amaro said. "That's the priority right now: Get the wound healed. Once that gets healed up, we'll be pretty aggressive with him."
The Phillies will confer with wound specialists at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital to determine Howard's next progression. Howard is fielding ground balls, but has not tried running or hitting.
Amaro said the wound has not taken longer than expected to heal.
"It was so deep, you could almost stick your fingers in there," Amaro said.
Utley, who continues to battle chronic knee problems, is rehabbing in Arizona. Amaro said Utley's strength in his left knee, which is bothering him, has improved. Utley had not been able to work on his strength during Spring Training because of pain in the knee.
Amaro said the Phillies will know more about Utley's progress when they see him during their upcoming West Coast road trip through San Francisco, San Diego and Arizona. The GM also said he does not know how much Utley will be limited once he returns to action, if at all.
Amaro would not say if he thought either Howard or Utley was ahead of the other in regards to rehab and returning to action. The Phillies certainly could use both of them in the lineup. The offense has struggled through the season's first four games.
"Our goal is try to get both of these guys to the point where they're on rehab [assignments] and playing, so we can assess what we're going to get out of them," Amaro said. "But until that happens, we won't know what kind of players they'll be until they're out here playing."
Papelbon settling in with new entrance music
PHILADELPHIA -- Jonathan Papelbon kept his new closer's music top secret during Spring Training.
It was finally unveiled Monday when he pitched an inning in a 6-2 loss to the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.
The tune is Alice in Chains' "Man in the Box."
"I just like how it says, 'Won't you come and save me?'" Papelbon said Wednesday. "But I guess in a save situation, it doesn't really work too well, you know? I'm actually not really big on the whole thing. It's not for me. I don't even hear it half the time."
Papelbon had Dropkick Murphy's "Shipping Up to Boston" when he pitched for the Red Sox. That song obviously would not fly in Philadelphia.
"We'll see how it goes," Papelbon said.
Manuel keeps the faith, sticks with same lineup
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel made no changes to his lineup Wednesday for one reason: He wants to show faith in his hitters.
Manuel kept the same lineup he used in Monday's 6-2 loss to the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. It paid off in Wednesday's 7-1 victory.
"If you take me out because I go 0-for-4 and let me sit a day or two days, more than likely when I get back in there I'll be trying too hard," Manuel said. "The only way you're going to get going is to get some at-bats in a row. I figure I might try the lineup for a couple days or three days or whatever and see if we can't get something going that way.
"I know this: You just can't keep changing lineups every day. You've got to give somebody a chance to get going. 0-for-4 doesn't give somebody a chance to get going."
Right-hander Chad Qualls could not pitch Sunday in Pittsburgh because of pain in his right heel. He said Wednesday he felt much better, and he pitched a perfect eighth inning in the Phillies' 7-1 victory over the Marlins.
Right-hander Jose Contreras, who is recovering from right elbow surgery, is working toward a return. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Contreras is pitching without pain on a rehab assignment with Class A Clearwater, but needs more work. The Phillies also would like to see him pitch on consecutive days before activating him.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.