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Pitchers, catchers arrive in Florida

Spring is here: Phils pitchers, catchers report

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- With the biggest snowstorm of the winter hitting Philadelphia, the Phillies are providing flurries of excitement with thoughts of the spring and summer.

With a forecast calling for sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s, pitchers and catchers reported to Bright House Networks Field in Clearwater on Wednesday to begin the team's attempt to end a 13-year postseason drought. The players received their physicals, then were set to hit the golf course.

Their first workout is scheduled for Thursday. Many players, including Aaron Rowand, Chase Utley, Scott Mathieson, Jamie Moyer, Pat Burrell, Ryan Madson and Geoff Geary, have already filed in over the past week.

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"It's important to start early," said Utley, whose offseason included a trip to Japan, a wedding, a honeymoon in Mexico and an $85 million contract extension. "You can get the soreness out that much quicker."

This spring brings significant new additions to the pitching staff in Freddy Garcia, Adam Eaton and Antonio Alfonseca, as well as catcher Rod Barajas. The rest of the position players will arrive on Feb. 19, and the first full-squad workout is scheduled for Feb. 20.

Charlie Manuel is entering his third season as manager and will be asked repeatedly about the team's slow start in his previous two seasons at the helm. He'll likely have no need to remind the players, who understand that playing catch-up isn't an ideal scenario.

The Phillies are vying to make the postseason for the first time since 1993. They nearly got there the past two seasons, before falling in the final weekend each time.

After two weeks of working out, the Phillies will play an exhibition game at Bright House Networks Field on Feb. 28 against Florida State University. They open the home portion of their Grapefruit League schedule on March 2 against the Indians.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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