Brett Myers made his much-anticipated return to a major league city near you last night and he looked remarkably like the same Brett Myers who took a forced vacation near Allentown, Reading and points south a few weeks ago.
Most interested parties -- his manager and pitching coach principal among them -- said they needed more of a sample before coming to any conclusions about his rehabilitation, but we are under no such constraints and are free to rush to judgment.
He looked pretty bad.
The picture above is from the front page of the Inquirer Sports Section. Note Myers is about to release the ball but is either looking at the dugout along the first base line or the on deck circle but he sure isn't looking at home plate.
Myers said he felt "ten times better" than his last major league outing, against Texas, when he was batted about pretty hard. Last night he wasn't hit as hard primarily because he couldn't hit his target. Myers walked four straight batters in the first inning, five overall in five innings and hit a batter. Apart from his near total lack of command out of the chute, some of which was no doubt nerves, his fastball looked absolutely limp.
It's the fastball as much as his command that should have him and the Phillies' alleged brain trust worried. It's been missing in action since he went down with a shoulder injury last season. It's hard to believe he isn't still suffering some effects from that injury either as pain or hesitation to let it all hang out, but one thing is certain: without his fastball Myers is a mediocre pitcher. The numbers don't lie.
He'll be given more opportunities to start and work out his problems, but the Phillies don't have the luxury of many more on-the-job therapy sessions. J.A. Happ is waiting in the wings, pitching very well at AAA. A few more outings like last night by Myers and Happ will surely get the call and the ball every fifth day.