Last season, the Philadelphia Phillies and “injuries” were mentioned all too often in the same sentence.
Throughout the year, more than half of the Phillies’ 25-man roster spent time on the disabled list. A total of 285 games were missed just by players who would have been Opening Day starters, if healthy, due to time on the DL.
But what about this season?
The Phillies' lack of major spending this offseason could be a result of the question marks surrounding the health of key players currently on the roster. Few free agents would have made a significant difference, even with players such as Chase Utley and Ryan Howard on the disabled list.
However, with an injury-free lineup and a healthy Roy Halladay in the starting rotation, the Phillies' offseason moves could make for ideal complementary pieces.
With key players nearing free agency, having a healthy 2013 is now even more important for both the individual player, and the team.
The offseason is taking its final turn towards the start of spring training, so let’s take a look at the latest news on every injured Phillies player.
Of all the players that the Phillies will have to make decisions on either during the season or the next offseason, Roy Halladay makes for the most interesting case.
In his first two seasons with the Phillies, Halladay was dominant, going 40-16 with 439 strikeouts, a 2.40 ERA and a Cy Young award.
Last season, however, strayed from the norm. In 156.1 innings, his fewest since 2005, Halladay went 11-8 with a 4.49 ERA.
The 35-year-old missed 42 games due to a shoulder strain that put him on the disabled list, but never quite seemed to be the Halladay of old, raising the question as to whether he was every fully healthy. In missing time, Halladay’s 2014 contract option is all but certain to no longer vest.
However, a healthy 2013 season could still lead to both sides agreeing to an extension. So far, there appears to be reason for optimism. In an article by Todd Zolecki on the Phillies’ website, general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. spoke on Halladay’s recent bullpen session:
He felt good about his mechanics, Amaro said. [Pitching coach Rich Dubee] seemed to like what he saw. That’s a good, positive sign. Obviously, we’ll know more about how he’s feeling once he gets out there and starts throwing more vigorous [bullpen sessions], but that’s a good sign.
I think more than anything else, he’s right on schedule. He’s on his planned throwing program. It was more just about how felt after he threw or while he threw. He said he felt better than he felt all spring last year, at least in the early part of the spring. That’s good.
Zolecki also answered questions on the Phillies’ website earlier in the offseason, and provided another quote from Amaro in which he said that Halladay has been working with Kyle Kendrick this winter.
If healthy, Halladay will once again help give the Phillies one of the best starting rotations in the major leagues and, furthermore, set up a possible extension that keeps him with the team past this season.
Ryan Howard missed 84 games last season while recovering from an Achilles injury, and eventually missed the last five games of the year after breaking his big toe in the on-deck circle.
However, with the broken toe only a minor injury and the Achilles surgery now 15 months behind him, Howard has a chance to enter spring training at nearly full strength and be back in the Opening Day lineup.
In an article by Jim Salisbury on CSNPhilly.com, it was noted that Ruben Amaro, Jr. reportedly said that Howard has not shown any deficiencies while working out, while Charlie Manuel was quoted in an article by Ryan Lawrence on Philly.com after visiting Howard.
I saw him hit, Manuel said. He said his Achilles’ doesn’t hurt him and he said his ankle is much better.
The Phillies saw last season the lack of power that the lineup has without Howard, but also saw arguably his worst statistical season in the major leagues upon his return.
Howard batted just .219, but did manage to hit 14 home runs and 56 RBI in 71 games. However, he also had 99 strikeouts and a .181 average in September.
He also batted just .173 with a .226 OBP against left-handed pitchers.
Prior to last season, Howard had not hit fewer than 30 home runs in a season since 2005. If he can remain healthy, the Phillies could receive a huge power boost in the middle of the lineup, as well as far more RBI. However, a consistent No. 5 hitter will be crucial for giving him any sort of protection.
With the addition of Michael Young and the return of John Mayberry, Jr., Laynce Nix and Darin Ruf, the Phillies will also have more options at first base to give Howard more breaks. From 2008 to 2011, Howard appeared in all but 31 games.
A full, healthy season from Howard could make him the best addition to the lineup this year.
If Ryan Howard has a chance to be the biggest addition to the Phillies' lineup during the course of a full season, Chase Utley is right up there as well.
Utley has missed two straight Opening Days while being on the disabled list, and missed 76 total games last season due to knee injuries.
However, unlike Howard, Utley is coming off of a strong finish to last season, in which he batted .299 with 19 RBI and a .405 OBP in September.
In total, Utley batted .256 with 11 home runs, 45 RBI, 11 stolen bases and 43 walks and strikeouts in 83 games.
In an article by Ryan Lawrence on Philly.com, manager Charlie Manuel was quoted on Utley’s condition after watching a DVD of his workouts, as well as after receiving some holiday cheer from the second baseman.
He looked good, Manuel said. It showed him exercising, jumping and grasping at this bar, things like that, and he really looked like he was in good shape. He emailed me at Christmas and said, “You’re going to have a healthy second baseman.” Knowing him, that’s means a whole lot.
Ruben Amaro, Jr. said in an article by Jim Salisbury on CSNPhilly.com that Utley should be 100 percent heading into spring training.
Of course, like Amaro also said in the article regarding recent injury reports, knock on wood.
Cole Hamels finished last season on a healthy note after having one of the best years of his major league career.
However, in an article by Jim Salisbury on CSNPhilly.com, Ruben Amaro, Jr. said that Hamels had some shoulder soreness this offseason as well as near the end of last season. The article reads:
According to Amaro, Hamels got aggressive with his throwing program sometime in October. The pitcher, according to Amaro, had some soreness and contacted head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan.
We shut him down for a couple of weeks, but hes fine now, Amaro said. He was being proactive more than anything else, which is good. We backed him off and slowed him down, but hes back throwing now and doing fine. Hes had no complaints.
Hamels went 17-6 with 216 strikeouts and a 3.05 ERA last season, and signed a six-year, $144 million extension prior to the trade deadline. His win and strikeout totals were career-highs.
At 29, Hamels is the youngest of the Phillies’ top three starters, including Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, and may even become the team’s Opening Day starter.
An injury-free Hamels, as well as a healthy Halladay and Lee, should give the Phillies one of the league’s best rotations, and their best chances of climbing back into playoff contention this season.
Mike Adams was one of three major league free agents signed by the Phillies this offseason, and should combine with closer Jonathan Papelbon to give the team far more consistency in late innings than they received last season.
Adams had surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome early in the offseason before signing a two-year, $12 million with the Phillies. However, recovering from the surgery should not be a problem.
The painful thoracic outlet syndrome that required surgery after the season certainly played a role in the apparent bargain contract, but Adams expects to be 100 percent for pitchers and catchers and sees no reason he won’t be healthy for the spring.
Although Adams’ deal is in line with, if not less than, other deals signed by relievers this offseason, giving an AAV of $6 million to a reliever coming off surgery has its share of risks.
If Adams is healthy, however, the deal should create far less headaches during the eighth inning this season than the Phillies experienced last year.
Adams went 5-3 with 45 strikeouts in 52.1 innings, and had a 3.27 ERA with the Texas Rangers last season. Pitching in the eighth inning, Adams has racked up 97 holds during the past three seasons combined. He also has a 2.17 ERA during that time span.
With question marks surrounding the health of other players and towards the starting outfield, having a healthy and consistent late-inning duo could give the Phillies one less concern entering spring training.
After Mike Adams, the next biggest right-handed addition to the Phillies' bullpen this season could be Michael Stutes.
Stutes played in just six games for the Phillies last season before having rotator cuff surgery and missing the remainder of the season.
However, in 2011, Stutes earned an early season call-up and went 6-2 with 58 strikeouts in 62 innings, and had a 3.63 ERA. He also held opponents to a .218 batting average, including a .183 average prior to the All-Star break.
At 26 years old, it will be interesting to see how Stutes bounces back after missing nearly an entire season early in his career. Fortunately, it appears as if he will get a full spring training to prepare for this season.
In an article by Matt Gelb on Philly.com, Ruben Amaro, Jr. was quoted as saying:
Knock on wood, I don’t see anybody being behind right now, Amaro said. Everybody is going to be on time. Stutes has been throwing so he should absolutely be fine unless there is a setback. Right now we view everybody on our roster as ready to go.
If Stutes can regain his form after missing last season, he will be a young reliever that still has more experience than a majority of the Phillies’ other young bullpen pieces.
If he and Antonio Bastardo can both regain their 2011 form while handling the seventh inning, leads will once again be safe.
The Phillies’ newest outfield addition fits the mold of a low-risk, high-reward signing, but a healthy spring training could go a long way in making the latter part of the description actually come true for Delmon Young.
Young was recently signed to a one-year, $750,000 deal that can increase to as much as $3.5 million with incentives, including $600,000 additionally for meeting predetermined weight requirements.
The 2012 ALCS MVP batted .267 with 18 home runs and 74 RBI for the Detroit Tigers last season, and had a .313 postseason average. However, he also had 112 strikeouts to just 20 walks, a .296 OBP and a .247 average against right-handers.
At 27 years old, the possibility exists for Young to make less news off the field and more plays on it. But to do that, he will need to be healthy enough to play regularly in the outfield after serving as the Tigers’ DH in 129 games last season.
In an article by Jake Kaplan on CSNPhilly.com, Ruben Amaro, Jr. said that Young could become the team’s starting right fielder, despite not playing there since 2007. Kaplan also writes of Young’s offseason:
Amaro said there’s a chance Young could start the season on the disabled list, as the outfielder underwent microfracture surgery on his right ankle on Nov. 10, just after the World Series. Young, who has already lost 20 pounds on a healthier diet, continues to work through a four-to-six month rehab process in preparation for spring training.
Todd Zolecki on the Phillies’ website also noted that the team is not sure of whether he will be 100 percent by spring training, and how this could hurt his chances since the Phils wouldn’t be able to see him on defense.
Young could provide some pop to the Phillies' lineup if healthy, and allow the team to possibly platoon Darin Ruf and Domonic Brown in left field. But the move could also mean that either Ruf or Brown will be sent to Triple-A to start the season, or a player such as Laynce Nix is moved before Opening Day.
If Young’s addition means that the Phillies will not have to use a double platoon in the outfield, it could be a great move. But a healthy spring training is the start.