Blanton takes another step

Joe Blanton missed most of last season with an elbow injury. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

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.

"I had zero problem getting loose between innings," Blanton said, "and I know sometimes that can be a factor in the spring, even when you’re coming off a 100 percent healthy season. I felt good doing that. I don't really feel like I lost any stamina as it went on. I actually felt like I got better in the third than I was in the first two."

In total, Blanton tossed 51 pitches and 35 were strikes.

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