3/7/2013 7:21 P.M. ET
Doc not worried about dip in velocity
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Roy Halladay's velocity has been a topic of conversation since last spring.
His fastball clocked in the 89-91 mph range in his first two Grapefruit League starts, but he sat in the 86-88 mph range during four innings Wednesday against the Nationals at Bright House Field. Halladay did not address his velocity head on Wednesday, but he alluded to the dead arm portion of camp.
"We're all kind of going through that time in spring when you're overcoming a little bit of dead arm and your body is tired," he said. "Those first few weeks of Spring Training catch up to you. I feel good with that in mind."
After 14 games, Howard gets day off
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Iron Man streak is over.
Ryan Howard is not playing Friday afternoon in a Grapefruit League game against the Rays in Port Charlotte.
Howard had played in 14 games in 14 days, an unusual start in Spring Training for an everyday player. But following a season in which Howard missed more than three months following left Achilles surgery, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel wants to get Howard in shape for the regular season.
"I picked a time and how much we wanted to play him," Manuel said. "He had to play and get over some soreness and some things like that. His quads were sore and he feels better and he's getting where we want him. We want him healthy, but at the same time, we're not trying to kill him down here. We ain't going to kill him. Hard work never hurt nobody. He'll be in shape, but I'll start monitoring him more. He will get some time off."
Howard went 1-for-3 Thursday in a 10-6 loss to the Twins at Bright House Field. He is hitting .364 this spring.
"Looking at him and listening to everybody, I thought the best thing was to play him coming out of the chute," Manuel said. "Get him some playing time, get him in baseball shape and go from there. There are some still some things ... I'd like to see him in better shape. He'll get there, too."
Lee impressed with defense against Twins
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Cliff Lee got some help defensively in Thursday's 10-6 loss to the Twins at Bright House Field.
He hopes there is more glove love to come once the games start to count April 1.
"As a pitcher, especially as a starting pitcher, defense is huge," said Lee, who allowed four hits, two runs, one walk, two home runs and struck out five in 3 2/3 innings. "You want guys to make every play."
Third baseman Michael Young made a couple nice plays Thursday. Domonic Brown cut off a ball in left-center field to hold Twins left fielder Wilkin Ramirez to a single in the second. Chase Utley later knocked down a ball in the infield to prevent Ramirez from scoring.
"The cut-off play by Domonic was a really good defensive play," Lee said. "Mike and Chase made a couple plays. That's what you want, especially for a guy that throws a bunch of strikes. You want guys back there making plays. You try to keep them on their toes and ready, and that's all good. I like it."
It is no secret the Phillies' defense took a step backward last season. The club thinks it improved in center field. Utley is known in the sabermetric world as one of the game's best defensive second basemen. Having him for an entire season should help. The jury is out on the corner outfielders and Young, who will be playing third base regularly for the first time since 2010, but there have been some good signs out there lately.
The Phillies committed 101 errors last season, which ranked 14th in baseball. Their .983 fielding percentage ranked 15th. It was the most errors they had committed and their lowest fielding percentage since 2006 -- the last season they failed to reach the postseason before last year.
"You want guys to make plays," Lee said. "This is the big leagues. If they don't, you've got to get the ball back and make another pitch. Hopefully they make the plays. I think everyone holds each other accountable as far as that goes. It's not like you're mad at him or he did it on purpose, but we expect each other to make fundamental, sound plays."
• Left-hander Jeremy Horst allowed one hit, one run, one walk and struck out two in 1 1/3 innings Thursday. He has a 14.40 ERA this spring.
"He's not there yet," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "He was better today with his slider. His fastball command, his angle to his fastball, isn't there yet. He was a slow starter last year. The competition [for three bullpen jobs] will begin here pretty soon. They still have to get some mound time to get comfortable, but Horst pitched outstanding for us last year. He and Chad Durbin, neither of them are there right now. Both of them have been notorious slow starters. They will get more reps as we get into it."
Dubee said the coaching staff will start paying a little closer attention to the results following Monday's day off.
• Closer Jonathan Papelbon, who was sick earlier in the week, will not pitch Friday as scheduled. He is scheduled to pitch Saturday instead.
"He threw a side today," Dubee said. "He's doing better, feeling healthier."
• Dubee said right-handers B.J. Rosenberg (sore right triceps) and Tyler Cloyd (stiff right forearm) are back on track after throwing bullpen sessions Thursday.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.