CLEARWATER, Fla. — Joe Blanton will judge progress on being able to throw a curveball without a sharp pain in his right elbow. (He threw two, and one dropped right in for a strike.) But he also watches the swings of his opponents, and they can tell him a lot more than Grapefruit League line scores.
"I got some good swings and misses," Blanton said. "Even ones where I didn't feel like I threw them well or located them well, I still got a swing in miss or he would roll over. So that lets me know I'm getting good arm speed, and most of the time, good action."
Blanton pitched three innings in a 1-0 Phillies loss to Baltimore on Saturday and relied heavily on his change-up. He has yet to allow a run this spring in five innings of work.
It provides optimism that Blanton's arm trouble, as he steadfastly maintains, is behind him. The Phillies will not have a true judgment until Blanton can take the ball every fifth day during the regular season. This is a start.