The Philadelphia Phillies are noticeably and understandably excited about the start of spring training in Clearwater, Fla.:
Given the painfully dull and disappointing offseason, it is no wonder the Phillies want to talk about something else.
With pitchers and catchers set to report on Feb. 13, baseball is set to make its annual re-emergence as the days steadily lengthen and spring gets ever nearer.
The Phillies are an old team who, more than most, will need to run very lucky with health to compete for a playoff berth in 2014. That starts with their overall condition going into spring training.
You will recall that a number of prominent Phillies ended the 2013 season on the shelf.
Ryan Howard is the biggest name of the sometimes walking wounded. The Phillies have $85 million more left to pay Howard on his abominable contract extension. They would love to see him do something to earn that money in 2014.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is optimistic that Howard can bounce back. "Ryan Howard is at one hundred percent, finally. It’s the first time he’s actually felt normal. He’s down there at Clearwater hitting and working out," Amaro Jr. recently told Angelo Cataldi on the WIP-FM 94 morning show (h/t CBS.com).
In that same interview, Amaro Jr. indicated that setup man Mike Adams is "throwing well" and that he had received "very good news" about the right-hander from Phillies coaches who watched Adams work.
Center fielder Ben Revere did not play again in 2013 after breaking his his right foot on July 13. The best news on Revere's injury is no news—there has been no recent indication from any news outlets that Revere will not be ready for spring training or anything less than 100 percent when the season starts.
Likewise, right-handed starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick ended the season on the disabled list. But the Phillies just gave him a one-year contract for almost $7.7 million to avoid an arbitration hearing, so presumably he is fit to pitch.
Finally, fellow right-hander Jonathan Pettibone is coming back from a shoulder strain that ended his 2013 season in late July. Pettibone recently told Jim Salisbury of csnphilly.com that "I feel good now. Going into a season, it’s the best I’ve felt in a while. I’m ready to go.”
Without a medical degree, it is nearly impossible to know just how healthy any of these players really are. The good news is that, as of right now, none of them are disabled and none of them are complaining of pain.
The Phillies need those good feelings to last all summer long.