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Phillies' injuries starting to mount as 2010 season approaches

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If the Phillies weren't panicking before about some of the team's question marks as they depart Clearwater, they probably should be now.Joe Blanton could miss up to six weeks with his oblique injury. Photo: http://kevinmbaseball.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/joe_blanton.jpg

It was announced today that projected third starter Joe Blanton is heading to the 15-day DL with a strained oblique which he aggravated yesterday in a bullpen session. Blanton has been the Phillies healthiest and probably most consistent pitcher since his arrival from Oakland in the summer of 2008. Having watched him pitch for the last year and a half, you often get the feeling that Blanton's "All arm and no body" delivery could be an injury waiting to happen. Surprisingly, this is the first time in his career that he has been placed on the disabled list, and it couldn't have come at a worse time. To rub salt in the wound, Clay Condrey suffered a similar injury last June (although his injury was reportedly more serious than Blanton's), and was mostly ineffective for the rest of the season. I know what you're all saying: "We never should have traded Cliff Lee." For the record, I agree, but he has been more injured than any starter on the Phillies staff this spring!!  Blanton's injury puts even more pressure on Cole Hamels  to step up his game. And I am too exhausted to start talking about Cole Hamels right now.......

Although Kyle Kendrick  will now take Blanton's place in the rotation until he returns (the earliest the Phillies are saying is the April 20th series against Atlanta), this all but wipes out a Phillies bullpen already depleted with Brad Lidge  and J.C. Romero starting the year on the DL. Speaking of Lidge, he received a cortisone injection yesterday, the day after his fastball was clocked at 89 miles per hour. Lidge insists that this is something he feels every February, but due to his slowed progress this spring, the feeling is happening later than usual. Haven't we heard this same story before? The question of whether Ryan Madson is finally ready to take the role of closer if Lidge can never get healthy carries more weight right about now. As long as Madson continues to give up game winning gopher balls with two outs and two strikes, he's better suited in his eight inning role. However, the Phillies at this time have no choice but to insert him in the ninth inning.

Whether Lidge is being honest or not with the discomfort he is feeling, it's probably in the best interest of Ruben Amaro to check out that waiver wire. Jose Contreras has surrendered 12 runs in 12 innings this spring. Left-hander Antonio Bastardo is too inconsistent. The Phillies bullpen was the best in the majors when it won the World Series two years ago. Roy Halladay can pitch as many complete games as he wants. However, the way the pen is constructed at this moment is not all that promising. And NO, Pedro Martinez  should not be considered. If his fastball was clocked at 86 MPH in Game Six of the World Series last year, what is it going to be if the Phils make it back to the World Series THIS November after having already pitched six months?

"Hi Scott Eyre, it's Ruben. How has retirement been......?"

With a season of such high expectations, it would be a disappointment of gargantuan proportions if this is a recurring theme for the Phils in 2010.

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com