It has become a theme. They hear it each day and each day they address it. It’s unavoidable.

That’s what happens when the key cogs get worn down over time. People start asking questions about how well the machine functions, and whether it’s time to replace some parts. Put simply, a fair number of these Phillies have been asked about their advancing age. They’ve been asked about it a lot. Roy Halladay was asked about it. Michael Young was asked about it. Chase Utley was asked about it, too.

Halladay admitted that the day is coming, maybe soon, when “what’s ahead of me is not baseball, and I’m going to try to embrace that." Young insisted that “there’s a big difference between being old and being experienced.” And Utley added that they’re “all a year older, but age is a number.”

The best lines on the subject were delivered by Ryan Howard the other day. He was in a playful mood that afternoon. As Howard walked through the lunchroom toward the press conference table at Bright House Field, he grabbed a bottle of water and held it out like a fake microphone. He tried to get some people in the room to talk or sing into it, but most declined, leaving him to do a solo act instead.

The Big Piece is a Big Kid sometimes. It is part of his personality even if his childhood was long ago left behind in St. Louis, traded in for adult pursuits and big money contracts and the attendant pressure of being a big leaguer.