Notes: Garcia feels fine in session

Notes: Garcia feels fine in session

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Some members of the Phillies' walking wounded took a respite from the trainer's room to take necessary steps toward preparing for Opening Day.

The afternoon started in the bullpen at Bright House Networks Field, with Freddy Garcia throwing 30 fastballs to catching instructor Mick Billmeyer.

"He popped some mitts," said pitching coach Rich Dubee, who was non-committal on when Garcia would throw next. "It depends on how he feels [Wednesday]."

If he feels fine Wednesday, the Phillies can tweak his schedule and target him to pitch April 7 or 8 in Miami against the Marlins, allowing the right-hander to stay in a warmer climate until mid-April.

In that scenario, Garcia would likely start the regular season on the disabled list -- he can be placed there retroactively to March 22 (or 10 days). Such a maneuver would allow the Phillies to carry an extra player, either a reliever or outfielder Michael Bourn.

The rest of the rotation begins with Brett Myers starting on Monday, Opening Day. After an off-day, it's Cole Hamels for April 4, Adam Eaton on April 5 and Jamie Moyer on April 6. Myers could then come back on regular rest for the April 7 contest, with Garcia making his Phillies debut April 8 -- or vice versa if the Phillies want Myers to get an extra day of rest.

The plan takes a different turn if Garcia doesn't feel right Wednesday, and the Phillies are preparing Zack Segovia for a start just in case. Regardless, the Phillies remain encouraged Garcia will make his first turn in the rotation.

"He's feeling better, which is good," Dubee said.

While Garcia is feeling better, Jon Lieber doesn't know what's next, and the Phillies don't expect him to be on their Opening Day roster.

"We're hopeful, but not optimistic," Amaro said.

Lieber, who strained his right oblique muscle swinging a bat Saturday, will test it by playing catch Wednesday.

Should Lieber begin the season on the DL, Jim Ed Warden and Clay Condrey would likely make the 25-man roster.

Bench shaping up: With Chris Coste's strained right hamstring hurting and Greg Dobbs hitting, the two available bench spots appear clear as well.

Dobbs and Karim Garcia are in, joining Jayson Werth and Abraham Nunez. If Carlos Ruiz's shoulder allows, he's in too, making up a five-man bench, six if Bourn sticks for the season's first week.

Should Ruiz not be able to play, the Phillies could opt for catcher Jason Jaramillo as the backup, leaving Bourn in the Minors.

Henderson touched: Ramon Henderson had an emotional moment before Tuesday's game, as the longtime Phillies employee was recognized as the recipient of the inaugural John Vukovich Award.

The accolade will be presented to a member of the organization's instructional staff, Majors or Minors, who exemplifies Vuk's characteristics of being a fierce competitor, having a terrific work ethic and showing loyalty and honesty.

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"I can see him saying, 'Congratulations, Mexican,'" Henderson said, joking about Vukovich's nickname for him, despite his Dominican heritage. "I'm sure he's looking down at me, proud."

Henderson has spent 25 years with the Phillies as a player or coach, the last 10 on the big-league level. When Henderson was dismissed with manager Terry Francona after the 2000 season, Vukovich lobbied new manager Larry Bowa to retain Henderson, and Henderson never forgot the gesture.

As he spoke, he glanced at the black patch on his right arm, to commemorate Vukovich, who passed away March 8.

"I want to get some extra patches," Henderson said. "I may not be able to wear it on the outside [during the season], but I will always have a place for him here," he said, pointing to his heart.

Henderson smiled.

"The only reason he liked me was because I disagreed with everything he said," he said.

Thanks a lot, Jon: Farmhand William Savage was one of five Minor Leaguers who dressed for Tuesday night's game, and he came telling a funny story.

Working on a walk-less spring, the control specialist had a 3-1 count on a hitter at a Carpenter Complex game, when Lieber arrived in his monster truck. The players' parking lot is just behind the field.

Savage went into his windup. Just before releasing the ball, Lieber's horn went off -- perhaps a result of the doors locking -- and Savage airmailed a pitch for ball four.

Phillies players were having fun with Savage in the clubhouse, and had the rook write an "angry" letter to Lieber demanding an apology.

"I should get something for that," Savage said.

Philling In: Werth made his second Grapefruit League appearance at catcher in the eighth inning Friday. ... Ryan Howard went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, lowering his spring average to .203. He is in a 1-for-25 slide and has struck out 23 times in 59 at-bats, or once in every 2.57 at-bats. ... Geoff Geary made his first appearance since March 15 and tossed a scoreless eighth inning. He had been out with a strained left hamstring. Tuesday's attendance of 7,789 pushed the Phillies' spring total to 115,066, a new Clearwater record for the team.

Up next: Myers is scheduled to make his final Grapefruit League start Wednesday afternoon against the Devil Rays. The right-hander will likely reach 100 pitches as he prepares to open the regular season on April 2. He will be opposed by Scott Kazmir in the 1:05 p.m. ET contest.

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