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Bootless Howard takes grounders

CLEARWATER — Phillies 1B Ryan Howard, coming back from a torn left Achilles' tendon, is working out without a boot for the first time since a setback three weeks ago.

The 2006 MVP fielded grounders Thursday while sitting on a stool.

"It's good to be out of a boot," Howard said. "I'm trying to make little, miniature goals. The first goal is to get out of the boot. Goal achieved."

Doctors removed an infection from Howard's ankle Feb. 27. He was cleared to start light exercises in a boot last week. He got the okay Wednesday to shed the boot. It's still uncertain when Howard will return, and it's possible he could miss the first two months.

"We'll see," he said. "The whole big thing has been to make sure everything is healed up and that everything is 100 percent; just to make sure we don't have any setbacks or any reoccurrences of anything."

Polanco update: 3B Placido Polanco, out since Saturday with a sprained left ring finger, took batting practice. Manager Charlie Manuel said he could play "over the next couple of days."

Yankees: Pettitte set for batting practice

TAMPA — Yankees LHP Andy Pettitte is scheduled to throw live batting practice today for the first time since ending his retirement March 16. He said he's a little surprised the Yankees already believe he's good to go.

"I know how conservative they usually are," Pettitte, 39, said. "I definitely feel good about (batting practice). As we continue to go, we're just going to see how I feel and make the adjustments from there. We'll try not to push it too hard."

Manager Joe Girardi said the goal is for Pettitte to be in the majors by the first week of May. He added it is possible Pettitte can get into a spring game by the time camp breaks.

"We have a schedule, and we'll stick to the schedule," Girardi said. "We have time. We want to give him what is considered a normal spring training."

Injury updates: SS Derek Jeter, out since March 14 with a sore left calf, is scheduled to play today. He took part in a full workout Thursday, which included running on the infield dirt. He had previously run only on the grass. Also, RF Nick Swisher, who tweaked his groin Tuesday, remains day to day.

Jays: Morrow throws efficient five innings

DUNEDIN — RHP Brandon Morrow allowed one hit, a single in the fifth, and two second-inning walks over five innings in Toronto's 2-0 win over Philadelphia.

He said he was most pleased with needing only 59 pitches.

"Something I set out to do was to improve my pitches per inning and go deeper in games," Morrow said. "I had to go down to the bullpen to throw 15 more to get my pitch count up.

"I'm thinking through at-bats and watching the way (hitters are) reacting to balls and calling a little bit more of my own game. All positives."

Lawrie update: 3B Brett Law­rie, out since March 16 with a sore groin, might return Saturday, manager John Farrell said.

.LOCAL CAMPS

Blue Jays

Where: Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, 373 Douglas Ave., Dunedin

Today: at Rays, 7:05, Port Charlotte

Info: bluejays.com/spring

training; (727) 733-0429

Phillies

Where: Bright House Field, 601 Old Coachman Road, Clearwater

Today: vs. Yankees (ss), 1:05, Clearwater

Info: phillies.com/spring

training; (727) 467-4457

Yankees

Where: Steinbrenner Field, corner of Dale Mabry and Martin Luther King, Tampa

Today: at Phillies, 1:05, Clearwater; vs. Twins, 1:05, Tampa

Info: yankees.com/spring

training; (813) 879-2244

Bootless Howard takes grounders 03/22/12 [Last modified: Thursday, March 22, 2012 10:10pm]

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