Mike Stutes tests shoulder against hitters

Philadelphia Philllies' Michael Stutes practices before the start of baseball spring training, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012, in Clearwater, Fla. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Spring training, like anything, is measured in increments. The pitchers throw bullpen sessions, then live batting practice, and ultimately in exhibition games. The steps are more pronounced for a pitcher like Mike Stutes, who has not faced a hitter in 10 months, because of shoulder surgery.

On Tuesday, he threw to his Phillies teammates, most of whom simply acted as batting dummies.

"It still wasn't the real deal," Stutes said.

Stutes pitched 57 games two years ago and became a favorite of Charlie Manuel's because of his durability and attitude. He will have to fight for a roster spot in a crowded bullpen this spring.

He says he is ready to compete.

"I felt good," Stutes said. "My shoulder didn't get tired at all. That was promising. I feel like I can go out there and not hold back. In the bullpens, I didn't feel like I had to hold back but you never really know until a guy steps in there. I reached back and let a couple go. It almost felt better to do that than baby it."

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