The flurry of transactions that general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has made since the close of the winter meetings on Dec. 6 won't mean anything if there is as much bad news on the injury front in 2013 as there was last season.
Amaro, in fact, has openly admitted that the good health of pitcher Roy Halladay, second baseman Chase Utley, and first baseman Ryan Howard is far more relevant than any of his efforts to upgrade the roster through trades and free agency. The general manager Tuesday updated the condition of all three players who missed significant time during the team's 81-81 season that ended the Phillies' run of five consecutive National League East titles.
Halladay, who battled shoulder problems for much of last season, "has done very well," Amaro said. "He's going to start throwing off the mound here very shortly. [Pitching coach Rich Dubee] has seen him throw a couple times, at least long toss. I guess he's working down [in Clearwater] pretty extensively with Kyle Kendrick. He's doing well, but we don't know what kind of Doc we're going to get until Doc's down firing in spring training. But he's feeling pretty good so far."
Offseason training sessions have also gone well for Utley and Howard. Utley, of course, has missed significant time at the start of the last two seasons because of problems with both knees. Howard was never 100 percent last season after suffering a torn left Achilles tendon in his final at-bat of 2011.
"When a guy is down for two years and doesn't play full seasons in the two years prior, you have to be a little concerned," Amaro said. "But we think Chase has learned and we have learned to manage whatever he's got going on in his knees pretty well."
Howard was married earlier this month in Hawaii, and Amaro believes he will be 100 percent at some point next season.
"I don't know how close he'll be when spring starts," Amaro said. "But typically it takes a full year to gain your full strength capacity with an injury like that. From what Ryan was doing prior to his wedding and his honeymoon, he was doing well."
Lannan recalls debut. At his introductory news conference, lefthander John Lannan was asked about his inauspicious 2007 big-league debut: He was ejected after drilling the Phillies' Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in consecutive at-bats.
"I don't remember anything about that day," he deadpanned. "No . . . it was my debut. Emotions were running high. I think that's water under the bridge, though."
Lannan said he never spoke or even acknowledged the incident with Utley, who suffered a broken hand and missed a month of the season.
"It was six years ago," he said. "Like I said, it's water under the bridge. I think they know I didn't mean to do it. Lefties, I've got to throw inside. I'm not going to blow people away. I have to pitch inside to good lefthanded hitters. That's what Utley and Howard are. I'm not going to miss over the plate, but I'm not trying to hit them. That's what it basically came down to."
In the years that followed, the Phillies hit Lannan a lot more than he hit them. In 19 career starts against them, Lannan was 3-13 with a 5.53 earned run average. Take away his career numbers against the Phillies and Lannan is 39-39 with a 3.80 ERA in 115 career starts.