CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Aaron Nola has not had a great spring.
But in the big picture, well, maybe he has.
Nola was one of the Phillies' biggest and most important question marks coming into camp. He had missed the final two months of the 2016 season because of an elbow injury. All he needed to do this spring to be in the starting rotation was show that he was healthy.
He's done that.
He pitched 5 2/3 innings against the Minnesota Twins and threw 82 pitches in his fifth start of the spring on Thursday. He gave up six hits, including a two-run homer, walked one and struck out six.
He's up to 17 2/3 innings for the spring -- without an elbow issue.
"I'm over that," Nola said after the game. "My elbow feels really good. I haven't had any pain or problems with it. I don't even think about it throwing or in games.
"Everything has been very positive. My body is healthy."
Nola, who lines up to fill the fifth spot in the Phillies' rotation, hasn't had good results this spring. He has given up 19 hits and 13 earned runs. But, again, the Phillies were only looking for good health.
"He's been working on his changeup," manager Pete Mackanin said. "Today, he threw more changeups than I've ever seen him throw. The changeup he threw for the home run, he admitted, 'I would never throw that pitch in a game.' But he's working on it, trying to get it going for him, and I think it's going to be a good pitch for him.
"He really pitched better than the result he got. He had a lot of work with his changeup, which is important. He was as sharp as we've seen him."
Coming into camp, Mackanin was concerned about Nola's health.
"I'm less concerned right now," the manager said. "It's always going to be in the back of my mind. But it's good to see 92, 93, 94 (mph) coming out of his hand, which is important. Once he regains that command, and he showed real good command of his fastball down in the zone today, he's going to be back to where he was -- with even maybe a little more velocity. We'll see. But the changeup is going to help him. I'm very encouraged."
The Phillies lost, 4-2, to the Twins.
The Phils had 10 hits, two by Odubel Herrera, who homered.
Andrew Knapp, pushing to make the club, started behind the plate and had a double.
The Phillies were just 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base.
The Phils' bullpen -- Sean Burnett, Edubray Ramos and Hector Neris -- accounted for 3 1/3 innings of scoreless ball.
The Phils play the Yankees in Tampa on Friday. Jeremy Hellickson will start against CC Sabathia.