An encouraging day on the injury front

Usually when the Phillies give an update on injuries, fans hold their breath. But today was different as some good news trickled out of Clearwater for three injured Phillies.

First, there is no news on Chase Utley, but that's likely good news. After all, when there is an update on Utley's condition, it's likely to be bad news, so why spoil another-wise good news day in Clearwater with an update on our forlorn second baseman.

The biggest news is that Ryan Howard has trashed his boot and is now donning a complete set of spikes. He's not exactly taking part in running drills, but he was able to take some ground balls at first base and that's at least something.

There isn't any timetable for when Howard will be able to officially resume his rehab, but he's now a little over three weeks removed from a procedure to help clear an infection in his surgically repaired achilles, so it's good to hear there is at least progress.

The news on Placido Polanco is also good. Polanco, who is nursing an injured finger, was able to take batting progress and reported that there was just "a bit" of pain. The finger is still taped and for now, Polanco is limited to batting practice and won't play in a game until the report on the pain is zero. Unfortunately, there's no telling when that will be, but again, it's progress.

Finally, Domonic Brown, whose latest issue is a stiff neck that has kept him out of the lineup for the past six games, is feeling much better. Brown reports that his neck is fine and he could return to the lineup literally any day, yes, even as early as Friday.

There was also some good news on a lesser known Phillie, Justin De Fratus. The 24-year old right-hander has battled a sore right elbow all spring and is throwing at his maximum long-toss distance with no pain. The next step will be to throw from the mound next week and step up his rehab from there if all goes well. De Fratus figures to open the season on the DL, but at least the injury didn't turn out to be any more serious than originally thought.

Finally, Michael Martinez is on crutches and there's no timetable for what's going to happen with his broken foot. Bottom line though is that Martinez, like Utley, Howard and De Fratus will be on the DL when the season opens.

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