Clearwater Countdown: Where is My Mind?

The winter warm up has everyone thinking about spring days, walks in the park and baseball.

That's right, Phillies pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater in just three days. In honor of the start of Spring Training is doing our top-10 countdown of issues to be settled before Opening Day.

No. 3:

What is Brett Myers' mindset entering Spring Training?

The up-and-down saga of Myers during the 2008 season reads like a movie script.

Opening Day starter-turned-closer gets turned back to starter again prior to the first pitch of the season.

A few months or so after the Phillies got Brad Lidge to close the door, the old closer was on the mound at Citizens Bank Park as the Opening Day starter. Things were looking bright for Brett Myers.

That new beginning quickly turned dark for Myers. After going 3-9 with a 5.84 ERA to start the year, he found himself back in the minors before the All-Star break.

The biggest issue for Myers wasn't with his delivery but rather his mind. He had lost his mojo -- his confidence was shattered and his fastball looked worse than Jose Mesa's.

But, Brett bounced back in grand fashion. He went 7-4 (including one amazing complete game against the Brewers) after being recalled to the Phillies and proved to phans everywhere, that in a town known for being tough on our players, that we have a soft spot for a good-ole redemption story.

Myers then solidified himself as a Philly favorite with that one ridiculously epic at bat against CC Sabathia in the NLDS.

With issues about player arbitration, Pat Burrell's departure and the race for the fifth spot in the rotation, questions about Myer's mental state have been pushed to the back burner.

This spring the Phils and phans alike are all hoping that Myers has buried his past problems and is geared to pick up where he left off in the playoffs.

A Google News search reveals very little about Myers entering Spring Training. Most stories often just lump him in as one of the solidified four starters atop the Phils rotation.

Should he be cemented as a top-of -the-rotation guy? The Phils are taking a risk assuming that he won't slip back into the sloppy form of the first-half of 2008.

This season will be a success for Myers if he reaches two milestones: 14 wins and 200+ innings pitched.

Myers needs to win at least 14 games if this team hopes to keep ahead of the retooled Mets or Braves. This is a mark that Myers has only reached once for the Phils -- during his first full-season as a starter in 2003 when he went 14-9.

Myers also needs to focus on conditioning. 200 innings should be easy for Myers if he stays in shape.

The key for Myers is to stay healthy, keep up the velocity on his fastball and keep his mind on the long-term prize.

Should things start to turn sour for Myers he should simply try to answer the question asked by the Pixies, "Where is my Mind?"

Let's hope Brett finds the answer.

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