Contreras to throw off mound

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Jose Contreras said he will throw off a mound Tuesday, taking another step in his recovery from elbow surgery. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Jose Contreras plopped into his chair and lifted both of his arms in the air. His right arm was wrapped heavily in ice, but the 40-year-old Cuban was proud to announce another step in his recovery from elbow surgery.

Contreras said he will throw off a mound Tuesday. He threw in front of the mound Monday without any problems, so he'll proceed to the next step.

The Phillies have no idea what to expect from Contreras, but they are paying him $2.5 million in 2012 with the hopes of using him in the eighth inning. There is cautious optimism that Contreras can be ready by opening day and the fact that he'll go off a mound this early appears to reinforce that faith.

But the team and Contreras won't know what sort of workload he can handle until he actually tests the arm in strenuous situations, like pitching on back-to-back days. That is why the team signed Chad Qualls, another veteran to reinforce the bullpen. Qualls has yet to report to camp due to a personal issue. 


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