CLEARWATER, Fla. -- If everything had happened as planned, if there had been no setbacks, no shoulder surgery, no rehab, this could have been Adam Morgan's third consecutive Spring Training with the Phillies.
Instead, it is Morgan's first since 2013, when he impressed nearly everybody in camp. But Morgan, who the Phillies selected in the third round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, suffered a left shoulder injury in May 2013. He tried rest and rehab, but the shoulder never improved.
Morgan finally had surgery in January 2014. He rehabbed for months before pitching 16 1/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League, essentially getting his feet wet again after an extremely long layoff.
"It's definitely a privilege and a blessing to be back throwing again," Morgan said Friday morning at Bright House Field. "Obviously, there's still room for improvement, but I'm headed in the right direction. I'm happy with the progress each and every bullpen. I'm getting better each time. The ball is coming out better. I'm excited to see what this season brings."
If Morgan, who turns 25 next Friday, had not sustianed the injury, the highly-regarded left-hander almost certainly would have made the jump to the big leagues in 2013. That season started with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan in the rotation. Halladay and Lannan suffered injuries, which allowed Jonathan Pettibone, Tyler Cloyd, Ethan Martin, Zach Miner and Raul Valdes to make a combined 42 starts.
Morgan left Spring Training that year ahead of each of those pitchers on the depth chart.
"I thought about it, but everything happens for a reason," Morgan said. "That's what I hold on to going into this year. I feel like I got caught up in that two years ago, worrying too much about it. Now just do what you do every five days. Everything will take care of itself."
Morgan hopes to return to form now that he finally feels healthy. He is not restricted in any way. He can compete and work like he has in the past.
Morgan certainly knows he needs to pitch significant innings in the Minor Leagues before can get back on the big league radar. He knows he needs to stay healthy and be effective. But at least he has a chance.
"At the beginning, you could not see the end in sight," Morgan said. "Everybody tells you you'll learn from this. No way. No chance. This is brutal. But now I can look back and say I learned from it. I learned patience and really cherishing the fact that I can be on a team competing every five days. You don't realize how much you miss that until it's gone."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.