*Ryan Howard took batting practice yesterday and continues to progress in his rehab back from that ugly left Achilles injury. He's also been taking ground balls from a stationary position on the field, but hopes to increase baseball activities in the coming weeks. Estimate for his return to the lineup still remains towards the end of May.
*Placido Polanco says he's "good to go" this season, after undergoing 2 hernia surgeries this winter. Phils need a healthy and productive Polly in the lineup and on the field. He plays quality defense, but his offense has been in steep decline. Hopefully he's able to boost the batting average back up to around .300 and be a positive force on this team.
*With Howard's injury, the question is who will man 1st base in his absence. Many people suspected John Mayberry would get some of the time there, but Charlie Manuel wants him mostly in LF. Wigginton, Thome, and Nix can all handle 1st, so letting Mayberry roam the outfield and play regularly instead seems like a good idea to me.
*Both Shane Victorino and Cole Hamels are free agents at the conclusion of the 2012 season, but they're each hoping to remain in Philly. Hamels is set for a huge payday, and the Phillies would be smart in extending him an offer before he officially hits the open market (5 years $100M perhaps?). Victorino on the other hand is a high-energy CF that makes a living off his speed. He'll be 32 in November, so extending him now doesn't seem prudent. Wait and see how his health is this year and then evaluate his worth over the next few seasons before investing millions in him. Don't get me wrong, I want him to remain a Phillie, but eventually the Phils are going to run out of money and have to cut costs somewhere. Who knows, maybe Mayberry proves that he is an everyday player and Dom Brown tears it up in Triple-A and they decide to move Mayberry to CF next year and let Brown play LF.
*Jose Contreras is mending well, and had a successful bullpen session yesterday according to Rich Dubee. A healthy Contreras is a valuable weapon in the bullpen, so this is a story to follow this spring.