Back no longer in front of mind, Harang set to shoulder load

Veteran moves past injury, feels good in return as he preps for bigger role with Lee out

Back no longer in front of mind, Harang set to shoulder load

TAMPA, Fla. -- Aaron Harang's sore back would have been an issue this spring even if everybody in the Phillies' rotation had been healthy.

But with Cliff Lee's season almost certainly finished, the back that forced Harang to miss a couple of Grapefruit League starts became more important. Harang returned to the mound Thursday night in a game against the Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field, allowing two hits, one earned run and striking out one in three innings.

"You know what?" Harang said. "I was trying to be an innings guy before Cliff went down. I'm not going to be putting any more pressure on myself. I'm just going to go out and do what I do, go out and give us a chance to win.

"I'm not worried about [the back]. I've felt really good the last few days. I don't have feeling or semblance of what was going on [with the injury]."

Harang threw a little more than 50 pitches, including a quick session in the bullpen. He could have three more starts before the regular season opens.

The veteran said it is enough time to be ready.

"Obviously, we just have to make sure nothing comes up, but the last few days I've felt great," he said.

Harang threw a 1-1 cutter to Chase Headley in the second inning, and Headley connected, hitting a solo home run to right field. Harang allowed an unearned run in the third.

"Having that time off, I've got to go out and find that feel," the righty said.

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