Life is about to get harder, for all those teams, because they have to play each other 54 times before they escape their division. But the Phils may feel it most because they’re everybody’s bull’s-eye. Kill the hegemony headlines.
This week, Phils shortstop Jimmy Rollins said he thinks slugger Ryan Howard might be lost for the entire ’12 season. The Phils officially disagree, saying the giant’s recovery from surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles’ heel has been set back weeks by an infection but that he will be back in . . . May, June, July . . . one of those months without an “r” in it.
“If you ask me, with this infection [to the skin on his left ankle], I don’t know if he’s going to play this year,” Rollins told ESPN, noting how each setback, with Howard now in a walking boot, means atrophy for the leg and the need to restart the whole process of getting back into baseball condition. The Phils’ first base hold-the-fort solution: ex-Orioles journeyman Ty Wigginton and, maybe once a week, Jim Thome if he can still play the field at 41.
Also, Roy Halladay just got hammered for the third straight time in spring training while scouts muttered about his decreased velocity. He has given up nine runs and five homers in 72
3 innings. It’s meaningless — unless it isn’t. Doc, 34, admitted the problem but vows his speed will return. Soon. Probably. He’s the best pitcher of the last five years; also the hardest used.
Chase Utley’s knee and hip are so chronically injured that, for the second straight spring, the Phils won’t even let him play an exhibition game. Last year, he batted only 398 times. Like Rollins and third baseman Placido Polanco, his offensive game is in an unmistakable multi-year decline.
Last winter, Roy Oswalt was deemed too old and injury prone to be re-signed, so the Phillies “Four Aces” are down to three. Cole Hamels, the trio’s only youngster, will be a free agent after this year. Two Aces?
Lots of teams have a few key players who are in their early 30s, but the Phils rely on 10 players who are 32 to 41. Five of them have $337 million in guaranteed long-term contracts, including $125 million to Howard. If the Phillies were any older, the club might have to change its logo to a lily.
This list of Phillie migraines grabs our attention and shows that the future, even tiny bits of it, are never promised to anyone in baseball.