Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Phillies Stymied by Injuries, Inconsistency

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Phillies Stymied by Injuries, Inconsistency

Article excerpt

PHILADELPHIA -- Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are taking swings in Florida. Roy Halladay isn't supposed to throw for three weeks. Cliff Lee is winless.

No wonder the Philadelphia Phillies are last in the NL East.

The five-time defending division champions began the year with World Series aspirations. Anything less is considered unacceptable in this city. Winning another World Series title has been the goal since the Phillies captured the franchise's second crown in 2008.

But major injuries to star players and overall inconsistency have plagued the Phillies over the first two-plus months. They've lost a season-worst six consecutive games -- all at home -- entering an interleague weekend series at Baltimore. At 28-31, they were six games behind first-place Washington.

"Everything about our team is kind of whacked up," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I feel like what's going on wrong, sooner or later, it's going to be like the stock market and bottom out somewhere. We'll start working from there. If we're going to win anything, we definitely have to get better."

The Phillies have regressed each year since they beat the Tampa Bay Rays in five games in the '08 Series. They lost to the New York Yankees in the 2009 World Series, San Francisco in the 2010 NLCS and St. Louis in the 2011 division round. They led the majors in wins each of the last two seasons with nothing to show for it.

Missing the playoffs would be the next step backward.

"I can say this: Don't expect us to be in first place right now," Manuel said. "I can tell you that. That's kind of how I look at it. We're definitely trying our best. I can't get upset about that. I know our guys are trying. We're just not getting it done."

There are still plenty of games left for the Phillies to turn things around, especially if they get Howard, Utley and Halladay back soon. Considering all the injuries, they're fortunate to be only six games back.

"When I look at it, we have 103 games to go, so I look at how we played that day instead of did we win or lose," Manuel said. "Winning games, of course, is the biggest priority for me every day and I'll always feel that way, but at the same time, it's how we play. …

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