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Lannan feels big league ready after rehab start

Lannan feels big league ready after rehab start

READING, Pa. -- John Lannan said he has been looking for progress every day during the rehab process for his left knee. He thought he saw some improvement Wednesday night.

Exactly eight weeks after Lannan strained the quadriceps tendon in his left knee while pitching against the Reds, the Phillies lefty made a rehab appearance for Double-A Reading. Lannan was efficient with his pitches for most of the outing, and nearly all of the outs he recorded came on the ground. He allowed two runs on seven hits in seven innings, striking out one and walking one over 85 pitches (61 strikes).

"With the injury, every day you look for something that got better from the day before," said Lannan, who signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Phillies in the offseason. "It felt much better than it did the last time out."

Lannan made one rehab start for Class A Clearwater and went four innings, while he let up one earned run on six hits and struck out five. He said he was unsure of where or when his next start would be, but added he would remain in Reading to do a workout Thursday, then "go with what they tell me."

The 28-year-old noted his knee feels good enough that he would feel comfortable pitching at the Major League level.

"I'm ready," Lannan said. "I've been honest the whole process, and I think I'm ready."

Lannan was not overpowering in his outing against Double-A hitters, but he kept the ball in the strike zone and did not let anyone drive the ball. Two of the seven hits he surrendered were tappers to the second baseman, another was a blooper and one came on a misplayed bunt.

Eighteen of the outs Lannan recorded came on grounders, and he induced three double plays. The 6-foot-4 starter also had to come off the mound to make a few plays and cover first base, which he said felt "great."

One of the biggest differences Lannan said he felt in his knee was having power when he pushed off the rubber. It's something Lannan said he lacked when the Reds scored six runs on eight hits against him the day before he landed on the disabled list.

"I couldn't push off, I had no push off whatsoever," Lannan said of his start against Cincinnati. "It wasn't a pain thing, I just had no power. That was the biggest thing, getting it stronger, getting it back out there. It feels much better, stronger than it did before."

Lannan, a longtime member of the Washington Nationals, has made just three starts in his first year with the Phillies. Before the tough outing against the Reds, Lannan had a 2.77 ERA in two starts.

When he was initially injured, the timetable on Lannan's return was six to eight weeks. Though Wednesday marked the eight-week mark on the injury, he said the Phillies training staff didn't want to take any risks.

Lannan spent the last handful of weeks at the Phillies' facilities in Clearwater, Fla., and while he said it was pleasant to spend time with his four-month old son, he did miss a lot of aspects of baseball.

"You're used to being in that competitive environment at this time of year. I kind of had to chill on the streets and not yell at people -- just kidding," Lannan said. "That was the toughest part, being down in Florida, going to work out at eight in the morning, not having those competitive juices flow."

Lannan's start was the second by a notable name in five days at FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading. Three-time All-Star Carlos Zambrano, who signed a Minor League deal with the Phillies, struck out seven batters and allowed just one run for Reading on Saturday. He will pitch again for Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Thursday.

Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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