Raul Off To The Yanks

Phils get compensatory pick for Ibanez

By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies will get a supplemental pick between the first and second rounds in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft because the New York Yankees signed Raul Ibanez to a contract on Monday.

Yankee Stadium on July 1, 2010

The Phillies had offered Ibanez salary arbitration last winter, with the understanding Ibanez would not accept it.

Philadelphia earlier received two draft picks as compensation when the Reds signed reliever Ryan Madson to a contract.

Howard’s recovery progressing nicely

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Ryan Howard seems to be making progress.

Ryan Howard (left) and Manny Ramirez

Howard took swings in the batting cage, fielded ground balls, and jogged lightly around the diamond on Monday at Bright House Field. He is recovering from left Achilles surgery, which is expected to cost him at least the first month of the 2012 season. The Phillies are hopeful Howard could return to action sometime in May, but time will tell.

Howard will meet with reporters to discuss his recovery on Wednesday.

“He did good,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “Really good. … We’re definitely not going to hurry him along. The trainers and the doctors, they check him out and they correspond with him every day. It’s not like we’re pushing him to get back. I think where he’s at — go ask [head athletic trainer] Scott Sheridan or [team physician Michael] Ciccotti — they’ll tell you they think he’s ahead of [schedule]. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to take him out there and run him through strenuous practice programs, right now. We want to monitor him and work him along. To say he’s going to start the season, that would be a reach. I think there’s a good chance he’s going to miss some time. How much? I don’t think it’s going to be as much as you think, but we’ll wait and see.”

Thome arrives at camp in great condition

CLEARWATER, Fla. — General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said on Sunday that Jim Thome‘s physical looked better than the one he took with the Phillies in 2003, which was the first year of his five-year, $85 million contract.

Jim Thome with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2005

Thome, staying true to character on Monday, downplayed any accolades thrown his way.

“You try to come [to] camp in good shape, sure,” Thome said. “I’m a little lighter, now. I’m excited. I’m ready.”

Thome has been asked countless times since he signed with the Phillies in November about his ability to play first base this season. His answer remains unchanged: He will not know until he actually plays. Thome is taking ground balls, but nothing can simulate playing in a game like physically playing in a game. He hopes to work into that gradually. But until Thome plays his first Grapefruit League game next month, it seems unlikely anybody will have a better idea about it.

Thome also said he isn’t sure how many at-bats he thinks he needs to stay sharp at the plate.

“That’s up to Charlie [Manuel],” Thome said. “My role is to be a bench guy, but also to be ready to go when called upon — if that’s two days a week, if that’s four days a week, whatever position he puts me in. It’s up to the player to get ready for that — it’s not about the at-bats, it’s not about home runs, it’s not about any of that. It’s about winning a World Series, and trying to be part of a team that’s been successful for quite a while.”

Worth noting

• Right-hander Jose Contreras, who is recovering from right elbow surgery, could throw off a mound on Tuesday.

• Jimmy Rollins appeared in camp in fine spirits.

• Shane Victorino, who appears on Monday’s night episode of “Hawaii Five-O,” is expected in camp on Tuesday.

Charlie Manuel

• Manuel will be supporting Special Olympics Sarasota County, when he appears at the Forum Salon from 3-6 p.m. ET on March 1 in downtown Sarasota. A $5 donation gets an autograph from Manuel.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Zo Zone. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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