CLEARWATER, Fla. - Pitcher J.A. Happ and catchers Chris Coste and Ronny Paulino all signed contracts this week, pushing the Phillies' 2009 payroll over $132.5 million.

Happ signed for $405,000, Coste got $460,000, and Paulino got $440,000.

The payroll will rise over $133 million when the two remaining unsigned players, catcher Carlos Ruiz and pitcher Mike Zagurski, sign.

Ruiz and Zagurski both have less than three years service time, so the Phillies can unilaterally renew their contracts if an agreement is not struck by March 2. Ruiz can expect a raise from the $425,000 he made last season. Zagurski, who spent last season on the disabled list, is likely to get something around the minimum $400,000 salary.

The Phils ended last season with a payroll of $112 million, including salaries and bonuses. That was the 10th highest mark in baseball.

The Phils' payroll for the coming season includes all guaranteed money (i.e., signing bonuses, buyouts) and a $3 million payment to the Chicago White Sox on the remainder of Jim Thome's contract.

Recovery unit. Second baseman Chase Utley continues to progress rapidly after November hip surgery. Utley again said yesterday that being ready for opening day was "pretty realistic." He is fielding ground balls, hitting soft-toss pitches, and could begin regular batting practice in the next day or two.

Third baseman Pedro Feliz, who seems to be behind schedule in his recovery from November back surgery, fielded some ground balls yesterday.

"We'll have a better idea [of his readiness to start the season] in a couple of weeks," manager Charlie Manuel said.

Prospects watch. Manuel on third baseman Anthony Hewitt, the Phils' top pick in last year's draft:

"He's got a quick bat. His bat just flies through the zone and the ball explodes with a little pizzazz. He's hit some balls to centerfield that just keep going and going. It might take him a couple years to play every day in pro ball, but the talent is there."

Hewitt, who turns 20 on April 27, was considered the highest-risk pick in the first round of the 2008 draft. He's an excellent athlete with dazzling tools. If everything comes together, he could be an all-star, but there are concerns whether he'll make enough contact as the pitching gets better.

Fresh out of high school in New England, Hewitt hit .197 with 55 strikeouts in 117 at-bats in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League last summer.

"He's young," Manuel said. "I don't even go by rookie ball. He's just getting into pro ball.''

Hewitt will play in the low minors again this season.

Today at camp. Returning Phillies players will dress in tuxedos for a group picture with the World Series trophy.