Ryan Howard

Phillies stars Ryan Howard and Chase Utley could be lost for a big chunk of the early season. (Reuters)

     There's no joy right now in Philadelphia, where Phillies fans have to be wondering just what will go wrong next.

     The Phillies just announced that Chase Utley, who missed spring training and a chunk of last season with a sore knee, is headed to see a specialist about the same problem and might miss the early part of 2012. Add that to the complications that have slowed Ryan Howard's recovery from Achilles surgery and the sports hernia that is hampering Placido Polanco and there's a pretty good chance that the Phillies' vaunted infield might not be back together until midseason.

     If that isn't cause for enough concern, Roy Halladay has got people scratching their heads with his double-digit spring ERA, though he insists that there is nothing physically wrong with him and nothing to worry about.

     The Phillies will be able to mix and match for a couple of months if Halladay is okay, since the starting rotation is terrific, but they can't afford any more bad news this spring. They've already left the door open in the NL East. Now, they have to be careful not to close it on themselves.