Phillies starters face the media

Cole Hamels jokes with Roy Oswalt as Cliff Lee looks on. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

CLEARWATER, Fla. - The five starters of the Phillies rotation gathered this afternoon for a news conference. It was the Big 4 (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels) and Joe Blanton.

The five appeared to be in good spirits as they sat at a table facing the media at Bright House Field. They were hit with all kinds of questions.

Lee was asked what it was like to be in spring training with these other top pitchers. "Basically, it's spring training," Lee said. "Just preparing for the season. I'm honored to be around these guys. But I'm just getting ready for the season."

Blanton was asked if he was surprised to still be with the Phillies. "I've been traded before, that's how I got here," Blanton said. "I'm pleased to be here."

"I wish I threw lefthanded," Halladay said with a laugh about his rotation members. "Everybody does it different, different ways of pitching. They are quick, they are aggressive, they go after guys. It's fun to watch."

"I felt like this was the best chance to win a world championship. That's what it's all about," Lee said. "I felt that if I got an opportunity to come back, I would take advantage of it.

Hamels said: "Every year, we've gotten a lot smarter. It shows the organization wants to push the envelope. We love to play this game, we love to play it fast, we're very aggressive. If we continue to stay healthy, we'll see what happens. Now that we have guys with postseason experience, we'll see what happens."

"I couldn't care less what the guy ahead of me does," Lee said. "If he threw a complete-game shutout or gave up five [runs] in the first inning, I'm still going to go out and pitch my best. I'm competing against the other team, not these guys."

"We haven't thrown a single pitch yet, so it's a little early to be compared to another rotation," Lee said when asked what rotation the Phillies' aces would be compared to. "I remember the Braves' rotation [John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux] was very good."

"I didn't find out until the next day that we signed Cliff," Oswalt said. "I'm going to see where I'm at with my body [before deciding whether to pitch in 2012]."

When asked about October, Lee said: "Nobody is going to give it to us because we have a good rotation and good offense."