© 2009 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

04/22/09 6:34 PM ET

Feeling better, Feliz off to hot start in '09

Phils third baseman endured back pain most of last year

PHILADELPHIA -- All the pain was worth it for Pedro Feliz, because the result was a World Series ring.

But the Phillies third baseman admitted how difficult it was to survive last season.

Cross-country charter flights were rough. Sitting in the dugout for long periods of time could be extraordinarily painful. Even tying his shoes at times could be a chore he had to ask of his wife and daughter.

"I feel much better now," Feliz said.

Does he ever.

Feliz entered Wednesday's game against the Brewers hitting a robust .359 with one home run and nine RBIs. He has been flawless in the field, too.

The veteran third baseman began to have back problems last June, yet managed to finish the season. He's widely remembered for his clutch single to center field, scoring Eric Bruntlett from third base in the seventh inning of Game 5 of the World Series. That run wound up being the clinching one for the Phillies.

On Nov. 20, Feliz opted to have a lumbar discectomy on his lower back. He spent the offseason at home in San Francisco with his family and spent five days a week with a personal trainer.

After a strong Spring Training, Feliz has been terrific during the first 12 regular-season games.

"I've been working hard," Feliz said. "I feel better. When you're going good, you're going good. I'm staying back and waiting for the ball. I'm trying to be patient. It has worked so far."

In 2008, Feliz hit .249 with 14 home runs and 58 RBIs despite the lingering back issues.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel believes that Feliz can easily eclipse those numbers.

"When I look at him, I know what kind of potential he has," Manuel said. "Right now, he's playing good and his swing is good. We want him to keep it up."

Feliz said his back ached during long innings in the field when he constantly had to bend over for ground balls.

He's clearly healthy now, and the results are evident.

"It was hard for me to reach down for the ball last year," Feliz said. "I wasn't 100 percent. I feel much better. I feel good now."

Andy Jasner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.