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Roy Halladay’s velocity, Dontrelle Willis released, and where's Ryan Howard & Chase Utley?

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Phillies Weekly Roundup:

Roy Halladay’s Velocity

Roy Halladay isn’t exactly having a stellar Spring Training. In three starts this spring, Halladay has an ERA of 10.56 ERA. Furthermore, his velocity is down, his control has been an issue, and it caught the eye of two anonymous scouts.

Halladay scoffed at speculation that he's injured, but he does acknowledge it’s taking him longer to get things going than usual.

Would we like Halladay to come out and be in top form right now? Absolutely. But let’s not kid ourselves here. As conditioned of an athlete as he is, Halladay will be 35 in May. He has logged 2,531 innings in his career. That wear and tear eventually takes its toll.

Is there a cause for concern here? Right now, I look at it this way: Roy Halladay is getting older, and we might be starting to see signs of that. It seems he hit a little bit of a wall mid-season last year before winning six of his last eight decisions. This doesn’t necessarily mean this year is the year things change, but it does mean that Charlie Manuel will have to ease Halladay’s workload if the Phillies are going to make one last realistic run at a World Series. If his velocity stays at a Brett Myers-esque 89 mph when he takes the mound on Opening Day against the Pirates, then we’ve got a big problem.

There is going to come a time when Halladay begins to look human, and I seriously hope that that time isn’t now. With the absence of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley for who knows how long, it’s going to become more important than ever to have Halladay firing on all eight cylinders in 2012.

Dontrelle Willis released

In a move that really didn’t surprise anybody, the Phillies released Willis Friday morning. Willis allowed five earned runs in 2 ⅔  innings this spring. He never got off on the right foot with the Phillies staff, claiming his arm was fine but then complained it was sore following one of his rocky outings. The good news for Willis is that there is two weeks left in camp, which still gives him time to try and find a club. The bad news for him is that there is a likelihood his career may be over.

Ryan Howard and Chase Utley Questions Remain

Even though Ryan Howard suffered a setback several weeks ago when his injured leg suffered an infection, nobody really expected him to be ready by Opening Day. And despite Jimmy Rollins’ sentiments that Howard might not play in 2012, the Phillies believe they will get him back at some point this year.  According to MLB.com, Howard has a week to go before the boot is removed from his leg, and as of Friday, it was reported that a late May or early June return for Howard is likely.Chase Utley photo: gcobb.com

On the flip side, Chase Utley’s condition remains even more of a mystery. There is still no date for Utley’s return. And even though the Phillies are understandably cautious in regards to his knee condition, the questions linger as more time passes. In fact, even Charlie Manuel is worried about Utley, and he’s not exactly one to push the panic button.

Clearly, you don’t want to rush Utley with his condition. Despite hitting .438 in the NLDS last season, it was obvious his power was all but sapped. The Chase Utley from 2009 or even 2010 clears that centerfield fence in the ninth inning of the heartbreaking Game 5. Utley and the Phillies are focusing near the end of spring training for him to get some at bats. Although the Phils want to rest Utley as much as they can, isn’t the inevitable just being prolonged here? Why wouldn’t Utley wear down again come playoff time? This is a situation I do not like at all.

Let’s be realistic here everyone: Chase Utley’s knee issue is not going away. Fact of the matter is, coming back every spring is most likely going to get harder as each year passes, and next year will be no different.  It has nothing to do with toughness or dogging it. Anyone who has ever seen Utley play the way he does clearly knows that’s not the issue. He’s given everything to the Phillies and for the fans. Because of this, I will never count Chase Utley out. We owe him that much. However, this is an issue of the body breaking down, and all the toughness in the world sometimes can’t overcome a chronic, debilitating injury.


Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com 

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