When Delmon Young signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, they were well aware that the 27-year old could end up making a late arrival in 2013 due to the microfracture surgery done to his right ankle.
That still hasn’t changed with the start of Spring Training, as the team still sees their outfielder likely to join the DL to start the season. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. suggested that Young might not seeing game action until mid-March, and that should put him at least a few weeks back of his teammates.
Though Young himself thinks he’s feeling healthy, his weight could still be an issue through Spring Training, and just how he’ll perform coming off the procedure will be a question that the Phillies will have to tackle this year.
Thing is, it might just be the first question in a very long line of them.
Between Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, the right side of the Phillies infield combined for just 561 at bats in 2012. Utley feels healthy now, but the fact is that he hasn’t played a full season in three years. Howard has never had an injury to recover from like the one to his Achilles that took out more than half of his season, and his results after returning (.219/.295/.423 triple-slash) does not yield too much hope, even if the power was still there.
That is, if recovering from the broken toe that ended his shortened 2012 didn’t affect it.
Add in Young’s ankle, and the team could be looking at the entire middle of its batting order going into the season with health issues to get over.
That’s not even mentioning that a 35-year old Roy Halladay, the workhorse that he is, will be coming off a season that saw him miss the most games due to injury (46) since donning a Phillies uniform.
All of which is to say that while the 2013 Phillies do not lack winning experience, they do so in healthy track records and reliability. Young’s ankle won’t make or break them, but add in another half-season from Utley, or Howard, or both? And with Carlos Ruiz‘s 25-game suspension?
The biggest criticism that have been put forth to the Phillies is that this is a patchwork group of veterans put together to sustain an aging, increasingly unreliable core.
Like most patchwork solutions, it won’t take very much for the whole thing to unravel.