For a team that finished 17 games out of first place, the Philadelphia Phillies are quite confident they can regain the NL East crown they relinquished to Washington after a five-year run.
''The Nationals had a great year last year, but we had a lot of injuries,'' slugger Ryan Howard said. ''Call us old if you want to. If you want to sweep us under the rug, just don't be surprised.''
The Phillies' streak of five consecutive division titles ended in 2012 with an 81-81 finish. Injuries were a major factor for the decline. Howard and Chase Utley, the team's Nos. 3-4 hitters, combined to miss 160 games to start the season. Ace Roy Halladay was out for a two-month stretch in the middle.
While the facts say the Phillies are trending downward - they've taken one step back each season since winning the 2008 World Series - players insist they have plenty left to contend now that they're healthy.
''We're a complete team now,'' former NL MVP Jimmy Rollins said. ''We're not going out there ...