May 16, 2012 |
Joe Blanton reached for his helmet and bat without hesitation. Maybe, if he avoided Charlie Manuel or Rich Dubee in the dugout, he could extend his outing beyond the seventh inning Monday. Manuel stopped Blanton before he escaped. "How do you feel?" the manager asked his fifth starter. "Good," Blanton said. So he batted. Even as Blanton cursed when Manuel finally emerged with the hook in the eighth inning of a 5-1 Phillies victory over Houston, there was so much to be happy about.
May 4, 2012 |
ATLANTA - The stationary bike beeped twice, and Joe Blanton stepped off after 15 minutes exactly. Around him, the rest of the Phillies reveled in a brisk getaway day 4-0 victory over the Braves. A team official worked feverishly to push up the team's charter flight to Washington. Brian Schneider iced his back with a wide smile. Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon lounged in a corner of the room and laughed. "I was hoping for under two hours," Blanton said. His first shutout in 1,797 days took 2 hours, 2 minutes to complete.
April 28, 2012 |
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel revamped his lineup in hopes of shaking up a struggling offense, and, at least for one night, he received the desired results. With Jimmy Rollins returning to the leadoff spot for the first time this season and contributing a two-run double, the Phillies defeated the Chicago Cubs, 5-2, on Saturday at chilly Citizens Bank Park. Manuel said before the game the move wasn't made specifically for Rollins, but more because he wanted to get others in the lineup.
April 13, 2012
WHEN Joe Blanton is right, there are innings in which you fear for the safety of the men who play behind him. Balls scald the infield, come at you as if shot from the hot-dog gun, force you to play every pitch with your glove up around your chest, the way you were taught as a kid. Again, this is when he is right, when he is not bothered by a bad biceps, an ornery oblique, a back that limited him to eight starts last season and made him just...
April 12, 2012 |
Joe Blanton sat in on the initial news conference and posed for all the photo shoots last year in spring training, but he was no more a fifth ace than Peter Best was a fifth member of the Beatles. And that was before his elbow started barking with a mysterious pain. By the end of the season, Blanton was nothing more than a forgotten man stuck in Clearwater rehabilitating an injury that just would not seem to go away. He made a few September relief appearances and even got into a postseason game.
March 27, 2012 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - At the beginning of spring training, Rich Dubee was reluctant to apply any labels to Joe Blanton. First, the pitching coach said, he needed to see Blanton take the ball every fifth day. Consider that done. But after Blanton allowed five runs in five innings Monday in a 6-0 Phillies loss to Boston, Dubee could not say when Blanton will make his first start in the regular season. Yes, Blanton is the Phillies' fifth starter. "Right now," Dubee said.
March 12, 2012
CLEARWATER, Fla. - The second week of March is no time to make definitive judgments about a baseball team. It also isn't a time to trade away pitching depth. So, as rumors continue to circulate about the Phillies' interest in trading Joe Blanton, we can say one of three things: * They are not true. * They are true, and the Phillies are open to a move that, from this vantage point, constitutes a wholly unnecessary risk. * They are true, but only as part of a bigger plan, one that may or may not rhyme with Soy, No Salt.
March 6, 2012
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Life changes fast. You go to bed as Shemp and you wake up as the fourth stooge. You go to bed as Kathie Lee and you wake up as the lady that Kelly Ripa replaced. You go to bed as Chris Brown and you wake up as, well, Chris Brown. Joe Blanton knows the feeling better than most. Last spring, he was sitting at a table fielding questions about how it felt to be a part of one of the greatest rotations ever assembled. By early August, he was working out in Clearwater wondering if he would ever pitch as a Phillie again.
March 6, 2012 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Three rows of scouts seated behind home plate at Bright House Field took notes as Joe Blanton fired his 30 pitches on Monday. Each time, five raised radar guns, looked down, and scribbled the number. This was Blanton's first outing of the spring; hardly a time for judgments. But when you're a pitcher who prided himself on an uncanny ability to take the ball every fifth day without fail, every milestone is important. That Blanton tossed two scoreless innings in a 9-3 victory over the Yankees was secondary to his declaration that his right elbow didn't hurt one bit. As far as he is concerned, there is no need to even think about the nebulous elbow condition that limited his 2011 season to 11 games.