Nearly 24 hours after Roy Halladay took the microphone at his Clearwater press conference, Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard took to the reporters to discuss his offseason and his preparations for the 2013 season.
Howard, who missed the first half of the season last year with a ruptured left Achille's tendon in Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS, spoke to reporters on his rehabilitation regarding the progression of his rehabilitation.
"My leg feels phenomenal right now," Howard said. "Compared to last year when I came back, I feel great."
That's a good sign, usually a ruptured Achille's tendon takes 8-12 months to heal 100%. Howard returned to the Phils' lineup in July of last year, but with setbacks it prevented him from playing 100% healthy. With a full offseason to get in shape and to strengthen his ankle, Howard shed light that time off was a key element.
"Having the offseason to be able to build up the strength again in my ankle was a huge factor."
When asked if he takes any precautions while doing regular activites, Howard noted that it's not even a second thought anymore.
"I don't think about it," Howard said. "Last year, I had the fear in the back of my mind that it may rupture again, but now it's not even a second thought in my mind.
Howard stated that his ankle has been a work in progress, but it has definitely gotten a lot better and a lot stronger.
Last season, Howard hit .219 with 14 HR and 56 RBI in 71 games. Compared to his 2011 numbers (.253/33/116), Howard was on the decline. Howard admitted that his ankle affected him in the box. Although he didn't really think about it mentally, Howard had a problem putting weight on his fore-foot at the end of his swing.
While the Phillies 2012 season is history, the same questions remain: Will the Phillies be contenders this season? It's going to take a lot more than a few acquisitions (i.e. Michael Young, Ben Revere, Delmon Young) to turn this team around.
It's clear that feeling good and playing good are two totally different things. Roy Halladay said yesterday that he felt great and was confident in himself that he can come back stronger than ever. Howard feels that he is more relaxed this spring and that it can help his mentality at the plate.
"I'm good, I'm just being me. I'm so much more relaxed right now in spring training than last year," Howard continued. "I think for me, a lot of it was mental last year. I told my self that I'm not gonna stress it. Not gonna worry about it. I'm gonna let the inner-me to come out at the plate and let loose and let it fly."
Like previously stated, actions speak louder than words.
When the subject of the team's age as a whole was brought up, Howard quickly shot down the fact that his play last season was related to age.
"I just have to continue to make adjustments," Howard said. " I have to continue to go up with a game-plan, get relaxed."
"I used to be caught up in being technical. How my swing and stance looked when I should have been thinking about what pitcher will do. What's my approach?"
There's no doubt that injuries played a huge factor in the Phillies fall from the top last season. With Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Placido Polanco landing on the DL last season, the Phillies relied on bench players and minor-leaguers to fill the roles.
Howard stated that he wants to stay as healthy as possible and do everything in his power to contribute his best to the team this year.
"I wanna play 162 games out there, if I can," Howard stated. "I mean, if Charlie wants to give me day off or two, that's okay, but I want to play every game. All season, every game inn the playoffs and World Series."
Howard was asked if he can play 150 games healthy this season and he replied with, "Sure, why not?"
Back to the subject of the age of the team, Howard made it clear that the age of the guys in the clubhouse doesn't matter.
"Age on the outside doesn't matter, it all depends on how young you fele on the inside." he said.
"If people wanna call us old that's fine, but we're gonna show them what we're made of," he said.
"You can sweep us under the rug, but dont be surprised."
Please surprise us, Ryan.
Follow Erik on Twitter @ErikSeyboldPHI.