CLEARWATER — Phillies 1B Ryan Howard arrived to camp before position players had to report. And he has come a long way since last year, when he missed half the season recovering from surgery on his left Achilles tendon.
"My left leg feels phenomenal compared to this time last year," Howard, 33, said Thursday. "When I came back, there was obviously still a limp. I tried to do what I could. Having this offseason to work out again and build up strength in my leg, my Achilles is a nonfactor."
Howard was hurt making the final out in Game 5 of the 2011 National League Division Series against St. Louis. After a few setbacks, he returned July 6. He hit .219 in 71 games but had 14 homers and drove in 56 runs. That's compared to averages of 44 homers and 133 RBIs from 2006-11.
"You're just not 100 percent confident in it. You can't do the things you normally could do," Howard said of last year. "Now it's not even a second thought in my mind."
Third shot: Injuries derailed OF Domonic Brown's chances to make the team the past two springs. Now the ex-Pasco High star says he's healthy. But with CF Ben Revere, RF Delmon Young, OF John Mayberry and OF Laynce Nix almost assured of jobs, Brown likely will battle Darin Ruf for the final outfield spot. "I'm just going to go out, keep having fun and really not worry about anything," Brown, 25, said. "If I get sent down, that'll be that, too. I'll just go down and work hard."
Jays: Romero arrives in different situations
DUNEDIN — LHP Ricky Romero arrived at spring training last year as the Blue Jays' No. 1 starter. Now because of the arrivals of R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle and the emergence of Brandon Morrow, he is No. 5.
And after going 9-14 with a 5.77 ERA in an injury-plagued 2012, he is healthy. In the offseason he receive platelet-rich plasma injections in each knee to alleviate tendinitis and had arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow to clear up scar tissue.
"It feels 100 times better," Romero said of the elbow. "I wasn't able to rotate it at one point. The knees have been a work in progress. I'm getting treatment, doing the small things … to get them ready."
Yankees: Teammates put past behind them
TAMPA — 3B Kevin Youkilis agrees with RHP Joba Chamberlain: Any tension over tight fastballs between the new Yankees teammates is in the past.
"It's something (reporters) keep going on and on about," Youkilis said. "But we're here as a team and ready to play. I hope the only drama this year we create is walkoff home runs and hits. At some time we'll all sit down and talk. But things are all going to be okay. Don't worry."