Contreras continues to progress from elbow surgery

Jose Contreras was limited to 17 games last season by an elbow injury that he had surgically repaired in early September. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- While the Phillies participating in the game against the New York Yankees at Steinbrenner Field took the bus ride over to Tampa Sunday morning, a contingent of "stay behinds" went through a brief and breezy workout at Bright House Field.

First baseman Ryan Howard, out since undergoing a procedure Monday related to his surgically repaired Achilles tendon, was not one of the participants. Reliever Jose Contreras, however, threw his second live batting practice with catcher Carlos Ruiz standing in as the hitter.

"He looked good," Ruiz said. "His ball was moving really good. It was very windy, too, but he said he feels great, so that's good."

Contreras, 40, was limited to 17 games last season by an elbow injury that he had surgically repaired in early September. He is a little bit behind the normal schedule for the Phillies' pitchers here in spring training, but he is confident he can be ready for the start of the season.

"He said he is scheduled to throw a couple more live batting practices and see how he feels before he gets in a game," Ruiz said, serving as a translator for Contreras. "He's going to continue to do his exercises to make sure he feels strong, but he's really happy with the way he feels."

In other injury news, reliever Justin De Fratus said he has been cleared to play catch for the first time since pitchers and catchers reported to camp Feb. 19 and he will do so Monday. De Fratus has been shut down by tenderness in his right elbow, but said an MRI did not reveal "anything serious."