An hour before batting practice, an unfamiliar face emerged and began running up and down the empty stands of Citizens Bank Park. After spending the last two weeks in Clearwater, Fla., Joe Blanton was back to see team physician Michael Ciccotti for an examination of his right elbow.
Blanton was scheduled to see Ciccotti sometime tonight and the results of the exam were not yet available. The 30-year-old righthander was hoping to receive clearance to begin a throwing program.
He has not pitched in a game since May 14 and was scratched from his May 19 start when he could not get warm in the bullpen before the game. After a visit to renowned orthopedist James Andrews, it was determined no structural damage harmed Blanton's elbow. Rest was the treatment.
Thursday marked exactly three weeks since Blanton had last picked up a baseball and the Phillies initial prognosis was for Blanton to be inactive for at least three weeks, maybe four.
So during that time, Blanton went to Florida, where he ran and lifted weights.
"I'm staying in shape," Blanton said, "so when I'm ready to pitch, I don't have to worry about that."
Blanton was drenched in sweat when he came into the clubhouse after his dash through the stands. Cliff Lee was seated nearby and laughed.
"Is it hot out there?" Lee asked.
"Just a little," Blanton said.
But right now, running is just about all the pitcher can do. He's hoping to hear something good soon.
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