Philadelphia Phillies: Roy Oswalt's Close Call Reveals Pitching Vulnerability

J FCorrespondent IMarch 23, 2011

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 23:  Roy Oswalt #44 of the Philadelphia Phillies wipes his face while playing against the San Francisco Giants in Game Six of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Citizens Bank Park on October 23, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

With Opening Day nearly a week away, the Philadelphia Phillies pitching staff is still the top topic of preseason predictions. On paper, the Phils should easily pitch their way to the World Series, but so many things can happen over the course of the season that nothing is certain.

Roy Oswalt's frightening experience on the hill on Wednesday proved that seasons can be altered in the swing of a bat.

Oswalt took a line drive to the back of the neck in the fourth inning of a spring training matchup with the Rays. Manny Ramirez's blast sent him to the dirt, but fortunately he only ended up with a nasty bruise and was able to walk off on his own without losing consciousness.

His X-rays were negative, but one thing is positive in Philadelphia, things could have been much worse for the most talked-up rotation in Major League Baseball.

Oswalt is lucky he didn't end up with a serious injury. The Phils have yet to rule out a concussion, but Charlie Manuel expects him to make his next start. Nevertheless, Oswalt took a scary shot and it showed how vulnerable pitchers are on the mound.

Chances are the Phillies' rotation will be the best around, but fans can only hope that freak accidents and injuries don't send their stars to the DL.

Baseball may not seem as dangerous as football or hockey, but promising players can be sidelined quicker than a fastball passes over the plate. The ability to stay healthy and consistent over 162 games will determine if the Phillies will live up to their great expectations.

Such factors can cause the downfall of credible preseason predictions. Analysts can only guess. Sports are simply unpredictable.