Health updates on Utley, Contreras, Qualls

Chase Utley is still in Phoenix to work with a physical therapist. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Ryan Howard is still restricted by an unhealed wound, and that is the most important Phillies injury news of the day.

The other injured star, Chase Utley, remains in Phoenix to work with physical therapist Brett Fischer to strengthen his bad knees. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. previously said Utley will remain there until the Phillies arrive April 23, but admitted the second baseman could stay longer.

"That's possible," Amaro said. "I think more than anything else Chase is trying to work on his strength and his stability. And he seems be to improving."

Amaro declined to affix any sort of timetable, even when asked to compare 2012 to 2011, when Utley missed the season's first 46 games.

"I couldn't tell you that because we have to wait to see when he starts to play in games how he feels, how he’s doing," Amaro said. "Chase is the kind of guy, as he’s shown in the past, when he wants to go, he goes. Last year when he came back, he was stealing bases, he was running. The one thing he didn’t have a whole lot of was his strength, which is something that he's working on right now."

>>> Jose Contreras, fresh off two promising outings at single-A Clearwater, will pitch on consecutive days beginning Thursday. If he passes those tests, he could be activated from the disabled list by the end of the weekend.

Contreras is building arm strength following September elbow surgery.

"He doesn’t have any pain," Amaro said. "He doesn’t have any symptoms."

>>> Chad Qualls said he's completely ready to go after the mysterious right heel injury that briefly sidelined him.

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