CLEARWATER, Fla. — Phillies manager Joe Girardi crossed his fingers Tuesday morning, hoping that David Robertson will return in the second half of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last August.

The Phillies signed the relief pitcher before last season to a two-year contract worth $23 million. But he pitched in just seven games before landing on the injured list in April with elbow soreness. It was the first time in his 12-year career that Robertson, who will turn 35 in April, missed time because of an arm injury.

“He’s doing great. If you ask him and if you ask our training staff, he’s doing fabulous, but he’s driving them nuts,” Girardi said. “Because he wants to get on the mound, right? And he’s not to that point. But he’s healing great and we’re excited about where he’s at.”

The right-hander’s return is not guaranteed, as Tommy John surgery could require a 14-month recovery. But there’s at least hope for Robertson.

If he returns, Robertson could be a key piece of the season’s final months. The Phillies are relying this spring on a cast of veteran relievers to fill the final remaining spots in their bullpen while some minor leaguers with promise gain experience. The bullpen would be much more stable if Robertson, who has a career ERA of 2.90, was healthy.

“That’s a huge addition,” Girardi said of his hope. “You get a David Robertson back sometime in the second half, that’s a deadline trade that can be a difference-maker.”