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Manuel pleased with Phillies' spring so far

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Spring Training has been relatively quiet for the Phillies, and Charlie Manuel likes it that way.

The Phillies allowed just one hit Monday in a 5-0 victory over the Pirates at McKechnie Field to improve to 5-5-1, winning five of their last eight Grapefruit League games. Ryan Howard has looked good, starting the spring's first 11 games.

Chase Utley is playing whenever scheduled, and has looked fine. Roy Halladay says he feels better than he felt last year. Domonic Brown is tearing the cover off the ball. And after an awful start defensively, the Phillies have done a bit of a better job catching the ball.

"We've worked hard," Manuel said. "And about the last three days really, if you've noticed, we've started to swing the bats better. We've started to play better. Things are starting to work for us. We're healthy. We're playing everybody to see what we've got. Yeah, I like the way our camp has been running so far."

Manuel said Brown has stepped forward early. Brown is fighting for regular playing time in the outfield, and has hit .348 with one double, three home runs and four RBIs in 23 at-bats. If the season started Tuesday, he would have to be the Opening Day right fielder.

"He's showed a good stroke since we've started playing games," Manuel said. "He's been the consistent guy as far as how he's looked at the plate."

Of course, there are 22 games to play before the Phillies head to Philadelphia for a pair of exhibition games March 29-30 against the Blue Jays. Anything can happen in that time. But so far, Manuel likes what he sees.

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