CLEARWATER, Fla. - Domonic Brown hasn't swung a bat or taken any fly balls in the outfield since coming off the field with left Achilles' soreness on Thursday night. But yesterday, he said he's "moving in the right direction."
The Phillies rightfielder was out of the lineup for the fifth straight day when the team traveled to Lake Buena Vista to take on the Atlanta Braves. He played catch and received treatment in the trainer's room yesterday for the tendinitis in his left Achilles'.
"I'm feeling better - much better," Brown said. "I'm going to start running here in the next couple days. I think the time off of not doing anything calmed it down a lot. I'm definitely feeling much better. I'm not even going to lie to you guys, I was a little nervous there before the MRI. To see the progression in the last 3 or 4 days, it's been much better. So hopefully I can be back on the field in another week or so."
After an MRI revealed moderate tendinitis, the Phillies said last Friday that Brown could miss up to a week of action. If Brown begins running before the end of this week, he still would will likely need a couple of days of live hitting, too.
It's possible he could do all of that before Monday, which would then give him a full week to prepare for the season opener on April 6 at Citizens Bank Park. But that would also seem to be the best-case scenario, if Brown is able to run and hit for a few days before the end of the weekend.
Is he concerned that he might have to start the season on the disabled list?
"I haven't even looked at it like that yet," Brown said. "I'm just excited on the progression, really. Hopefully I can be ready for Opening Day. That's the goal as of right now. But we'll see what happens. I'm just excited it wasn't a tear. We're moving in the right direction."
Aaron Harang had only one spring start to his name a week ago. Now he's in line to follow Cole Hamels from his second slot in the rotation 2 weeks from today at Citizens Bank Park.
Harang, who has battled back issues this spring, made consecutive starts for the first time in a Phillies uniform when he took the mound in a minor league game at the Carpenter Complex in Clearwater.
Harang allowed three runs on seven hits in five-plus innings (he faced an additional hitter in the third inning, the kind of manipulations teams are able to do during minor league spring games). Harang struck out five, didn't walk a batter, and threw 54 of his 74 pitches for strikes.
"I felt good, no problems getting up and down," Harang said. "It was nice to be back out there, kind of build the innings back up, be in a controlled environment."
Following his outing, Harang simulated getting up and down for another inning, throwing seven more pitches in the bullpen. Harang has two more exhibition starts scheduled: Sunday in Clearwater vs. Detroit and Friday, April 3 in Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh.
The 36-year-old Harang, who signed a 1-year, $5 million deal as a free agent in January, is on schedule to start Wednesday, April 8 vs. Boston.
Chad Billingsley, another veteran free agent who joined the Phillies this winter, is scheduled to throw in his second minor league game in 6 days tomorrow in Clearwater. Billingsley, who has undergone two elbow surgeries in the last two seasons, could pitch in a Grapefruit League game next week before the Phillies break camp.
Billingsley, barring a setback, could join the major league rotation in mid-to-late April.
Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf hit back-to-back home runs in the third inning of the Phillies' 5-3 win over the Braves yesterday. It was the third of the spring for Howard, the second for Ruf.