Contreras on slower pace, but opening day possible

Phillies' pitcher Jose Contreras throws off a mound at workouts in Clearwater. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The feedback on Jose Contreras' recovery from elbow surgery has been nothing but glowing. Pitching coach Rich Dubee watched Contreras throw another bullpen session Monday and said it went "real well."

But the Phillies are taking precautions to limit the 40-year-old's workload this spring. He's not far behind other pitchers; Contreras will throw his first live batting practice Thursday. But Contreras is not throwing every other day like the rest of the staff. He has an extra day of rest built into his schedule.

Still, Dubee believes Contreras can be ready for opening day.

"I don't think it's a stretch," Dubee said. "At the same time, we're not keeping him on the same pace as other guys. He's going to get extra time in between throwing sessions. If he progresses, opening day is not out of the question. But that will play itself out."

>>> Cliff Lee will throw his first batting practice session Tuesday. He's back to the same schedule as the rest of the pitchers in his group.

Coincidentally, Lee's group includes hulking righthander Phillippe Aumont, one of the three players traded for Lee in December 2010. Aumont had never met Lee before this spring and planned to introduce himself. So one day during early workouts, Aumont said hello.

"We got traded together once, didn't we?" Lee replied.

And a friendship was born.

>>> Dubee would not name starters for the Grapefruit League weekend home-and-home opening series with the New York Yankees. Here's guessing Cole Hamels throws Saturday in Clearwater and Roy Halladay goes Sunday in Tampa.

Have a question? Send it to Matt Gelb's Mailbag.