The first official spring training game is today versus the Yankees at 1:15pm EST. The first televised game is Sunday versus Houston on UPN57. If you’re dying to see the Phils however, all games are shown on MLB.tv, which is a pretty decent service and good deal for access to all spring training, regular season and World Baseball Classic games. Yet, at least for the next week or so, it will be questionable which Phillies you’ll get to see in action. The injuries are piling up down in Clearwater - fortunately though none seem to be too serious.
Aaron Rowand was hit in the shin on Monday by an Aaron Myette pitch and now requires the use of a shin guard while batting. Pat Burrell has been experiencing some soreness in his right foot – the same one on which he had surgery last winter to remove a bone spur. The good news is that he is planning to DH today against the Yankees. For the past week Ryan Howard’s had a bit too much sun and is now running a 103-degree fever. While that is dangerously high, it’s funny how they announced his precise temperature. Chris Booker meanwhile is having problems with his left knee, which he had surgery on during the off-season. He failed his physical last week and then failed stability tests on Monday. Then there’s David Bell, the walking wounded. For the first part of the week he was hampered by a sore left elbow, but just as that has started to recess, he tweaks his back on Wednesday. You may recall that Bell has had a history of back problems, and for that reason he will be visiting an orthopedic surgeon today.
Whew. That’s it for now, but the games haven’t even started yet! It seems most of these setbacks are manifestations of injuries past. Most likely the players’ bodies are just a bit stiff from the winter and the first workouts affect the troublespots the most. After a few games they should loosen up and hopefully be back close to 100%. But what if they’re not? Injuries, specifically during the regular season, are practically inevitable. Will the Phillies’ depth be able to sustain them through a major injury to a starter? It seems offensively the lineup should be ok, and while there are a plethora of possible starting pitchers, options 4-8 are still vastly unproven. If Lieberthal knee’s start to give out, can Sal Fasano play everyday or can Carlos Ruiz conjure up the ghosts of Bobby Estalella in 1998? The bullpen has extra bodies on ice, but like the starters, few if any are solid. Finally there’s the middle infield, an injury to Chase Utley or Jimmy Rollins - despite all the backups - could be devastating, especially on the defensive front. In most regards, we’ll just have to hope Coop and the medical staff can keep the guys healthy.