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Blanton pleased with Florida results

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Joe Blanton's year began at Bright House Field with a news conference and photo shoots with the "Four Aces" as part of the Phillies' vaunted pitching rotation.

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Joe Blanton's year began at Bright House Field with a news conference and photo shoots with the "Four Aces" as part of the Phillies' vaunted pitching rotation.

It ended over the weekend with five innings in an instructional league game.

In between, Blanton struggled with an elbow injury that limited him to 41 1/3 innings in 11 appearances, including eight starts.

Blanton allowed one run over five innings Saturday with a consistent 90 mph fastball.

"It's good," Blanton said of his elbow. "I threw four innings in one game down here and five innings in another, throwing all my pitches, so I am feeling pretty confident."

Blanton is due $8.25 million next season in the final year of a 3-year, $24 million deal. He said his focus is on getting ready for the start of next year.

"I'm just going to give it a rest," Blanton said, "keep playing catch a bit, doing it light. I'm feeling good about my mechanics for the most part and the way my arm has felt. Now I will just try to keep it going, keep it healthy and be ready for next year."

Blanton, 30, said that each time he thought the elbow would get better, the situation got worse. He went on the disabled list in mid-May, made one rehab appearance for Class A Lakewood in early September and was activated a few days later. He mainly pitched out of the bullpen for the rest of the season. He finished with a 1-2 record and a 5.01 ERA.

"It kind of came about in spring a little bit, and I just thought it was some spring-training things you work through, then it kind of got worse when the season started. It gradually kept getting worse and worse and I tried to rest it. It didn't get better, then I rested it some more and it still didn't get better again. So for whatever reason, I guess time was what it needed more than anything."

Raising Arizona

The Phillies organization has seven players with the Scottsdale Scorpions, of the Arizona Fall League.

The most intriguing name is outfielder Tyson Gillies, who was limited to three games this season and 28 in 2010 because of injuries. Gillies was among the players the Phillies received from Seattle for Cliff Lee.

Gillies was hitting .313 through seven games, with five runs, five walks and seven strikeouts.

Minor league veteran first baseman Cody Overbeck, who split the season between Double A Reading and Triple A Lehigh Valley, was hitting .318 through seven games. First baseman Darin Ruf, who hit .308 for Clearwater, got off to a slow start, at .111 through five games.

Tyler Cloyd, who split the season between Lakewood and Reading, allowed one run in five innings in his first two starts. Reliever Jake Diekman, who made 53 appearances for Reading, has not allowed a run in three games thus far, and has one save.

Colby Shreve, who was with Clearwater and Lakewood, has struggled, allowing three earned runs in 3 2/3 innings in his three appearances. B.J. Rosenberg, who was with Reading, has appeared in two games, allowing one run over two innings.

Also on the Scorpions' roster are Nationals phenom Bryce Harper and the Angels' Mike Trout, from Millville, N.J., who spent 40 games in the big leagues this season.

Daily News correspondent Eddie Michels contributed to this report.

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