Harang staying healthy key for Phillies this year

Harang staying healthy key for Phillies this year

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Aaron Harang said Monday afternoon that the tightness he felt in his back last week is no longer an issue.

"Everything is good," he said.

The Phillies hope that is true.

Harang allowed three hits and two walks in two scoreless innings in his Grapefruit League debut in a 1-0 win over the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium on Monday.

Harang missed his scheduled debut last week because of back tightness. It raised a few eyebrows in camp because the Phillies entered Spring Training already thin with starting pitching. And that was before news broke this week that Cliff Lee suffered a setback with his left elbow.

"The whole back thing, I know the feel," Harang said. "It's the first two weeks of the spring when you're running around in your cleats and getting used to being out running around and standing around. I don't go home in the offseason and stand in my front yard with my spikes and train for this."

Harang, 36, went 12-12 with a 3.57 ERA in 33 starts last season with the Braves. He said the Braves talked with him about returning but the Phillies were more aggressive. They signed him to a one-year, $5 million contract.

There has been plenty of talk this spring about the Phillies trading Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley to help rebuild for the future.

Lee had been in that group, but his latest setback scuttles any thoughts of a trade.

But Harang and perhaps even Chad Billingsley, who signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract, could be ideal trade candidates come July 31, if they are pitching well. They are both on one-year contracts at affordable salaries.

They might not land a package like Hamels conceivably could bring, but they could bring more youth into the system.

"You're aware of that type of stuff, but my focus is pitching for the Phillies and trying to help us win," Harang said. "That's my goal every fifth day. There's only so much I can control. I can only do what I can control and leave the rest up to the club."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.