Results tagged ‘ Ryan Howard ’
Howard is hitting .294 (5-for-17) with one double, one home run, three RBIs and two walks with eight strikeouts. He put up those numbers despite facing three left-handed starting pitchers in the season’s first four games. (Howard had a .604 OPS against left-handers from 2011-13, which was 249th out of 269 qualifying hitters) Howard’s extra-base hits and every RBI have come against a lefty in big situations. His single to right field in the fourth inning Friday against Cubs left-hander Travis Wood advanced Marlon Byrd from first to third. Byrd scored the Phillies’ first run in a 7-2 victory on an infield single from Domonic Brown.
The only issue is Howard’s swings and misses at pitches outside the strike zone. Eight strikeouts in 17 at-bats are a lot.
(It also means Howard is 5-for-9 when he puts the ball in play.)
“I liked the aggressiveness in his swings,” Sandberg said. “I think there is more bat speed. That’s come a long way since the middle part of Spring Training. With that being said, when he gets a pitch in the zone with that swing, he can do some damage for us. He just needs to concentrate on making them come to him. There are some bats behind him. Take some walks if they give them. Ball in the zone, he can make something happen.”
The streak ended at 665 games Tuesday at Globe Life Park.
Ryne Sandberg dropped Howard to fifth against Texas left-hander Martin Perez. Marlon Byrd hit fourth, splitting up the left-handed-hitting Chase Utley and Howard. Sandberg split the lefties with Byrd four times in Spring Training, a strong indication he would make the move in the regular season.
“He’s the manager,” Howard said. “I don’t make the lineup. Whatever the lineup is, that’s what the lineup is. As far as spots and stuff, wherever my name is, that’s where I’m supposed to hit.”
Sandberg made other platoon-type moves, playing John Mayberry Jr. in left field and Jayson Nix at third base instead of Domonic Brown and Cody Asche, respectively.
“I’ve talked with him about it,” Sandberg said about Howard. “I’ve talked to him a couple of times about that, the reasons for it. I noticed in the Spring Training games – I think he had four or five – two of those games he had two hits and he had one hit in the other. So he had some success there. The fifth spot is still an RBI spot with men on base. It’s a power spot. It’s still a good spot for him regardless.”
Howard deferred to the manager when asked about the change.
But does he have a preference?
“I don’t know,” he said.
There are reasons for the adjustment. The Phillies ranked 22nd in baseball last season against lefties with a .679 OPS, a number which must improve. Byrd had a .959 OPS against lefties last season, which ranked 13th out of 173 qualifying players in baseball. Meanwhile, Howard has a .602 OPS against lefties from 2011-14, which ranks 203 out of 213 qualifying players.
“Yeah, it’s noteworthy,” Howard said. “But at the same time … I’m not even going to go there. I really have nothing to say about it. I’m going to stay away from all of that. Just try to keep everything on the up and up. You say the wrong thing and then all of a sudden … people just misconstrue or whatever. That’s not what I want to have happen.”
He made considerable changes to his lineup following Monday’s 14-10 victory over the Rangers at Globe Life Stadium.
He has Marlon Byrd hitting fourth between Chase Utley and Ryan Howard tonight against Rangers left-hander Martin Perez. That itself should not surprise people. Sandberg hit Byrd fourth several times in Spring Training. Byrd also had a .959 OPS against lefties last season, which ranked 13th out of 173 qualifying players in baseball. Meanwhile, Howard has a .602 OPS against lefties from 2011-14, which ranks 203 out of 213 qualifying players.
But the move is noteworthy because Howard had started 665 consecutive regular-season games in the cleanup spot. The last time he started a game and did not hit fourth? June 29, 2008, in Texas.
Pat Burrell hit fourth that afternoon.
Sandberg also has Cesar Hernandez playing second base with Utley the DH. John Mayberry Jr. is starting in left field, giving Domonic Brown a day off. That’s a platoon move. Brown’s career splits: .794 OPS vs. righties to .672 OPS vs. lefties. Mayberry’s career splits: .852 OPS vs. lefties to .668 OPS vs. righties.
Cody Asche, who had a big game yesterday, also takes a seat to Jayson Nix at third base. Nix has a career .727 OPS against lefties, compared to a .602 OPS against righties. Asche has a .629 OPS against lefties in his brief big-league career, compared to a .762 OPS agianst righties.
Interesting stuff …
If you look at the projected Opening Day lineup you see many of the names you see today: Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Domonic Brown, Ben Revere and Cody Asche. That’s five left-handed hitters. You also have Jimmy Rollins, who is stronger from the left side of the plate. That has had a few people wondering if the Phillies could take a run at Cuban slugger Jose Dariel Abreu.
But one source said yesterday it doesn’t seem to be a fit because Abreu is a hulking first baseman and is not a candidate to play the outfield.
In other words, Ryan Howard is in his way. He has three years and $85 million remaining on his contract.
But so is Darin Ruf and Maikel Franco. Ruf has pop and can play first base. Franco is the organization’s top hitting prospect. He came up as a third baseman, but the Phillies are trying him at first base to give them more options. If Franco becomes what the Phillies project him to be they already have a right-handed first baseman with pop. And at a whole lot less money.
Lannan is on the disabled list with tendinosis in the knee. Phillies physician Michael Ciccotti has recommend surgery, although Lannan first will receive a second opinion from Dodgers physical Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.
“I think he ruptured the tendon,” Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said.
Lannan missed two months earlier this season with a strained quadriceps tendon in the knee. He said last week in Atlanta he wanted to get this recurring issue – the knee has bothered him in previous seasons – resolved.
Proefrock offered health updates on other injured Phillies:
- Ryan Howard (left knee surgery): He saw a doctor Monday and will begin baseball activities Thursday.
- Ben Revere (right ankle surgery): He is finally off crutches. “I don’t know whether Ryan or Ben will be back on the field here or in Florida, but the expectation is that they’ll be back on the field somewhere before the end of the season,” Proefrock said. “Whether it’s up here, whether they’re playing in Instructional League, I don’t know. … I think the main thing for both of them is to just get them to the point where there are no surprises in Spring Training next year.”
- Mike Adams (right shoulder surgery): He continues to rehab and as Adams said recently he expects to be ready come Spring Training.
- Mike Stutes (right biceps tendinitis): He is long tossing. “He’s making good progress,” Proefrock said. Proefrock said there is a chance Stutes could be back at some point, although it’s too early in the process to offer a timetable.
- Jeremy Horst (sprained left elbow). He visited the doctor Tuesday. He could begin a throwing program soon.
- Joe Savery (stiff left elbow). He will begin a rehab assignment later this week, most likely in Clearwater, Fla.
Sell! Sell! Sell!
But the Phillies entered tonight’s game against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park winners of six of their last eight games and playing in a division that is arguably the weakest in baseball. So he seemed buoyed by the news Ryan Howard had successful surgery earlier in the day.
Howard had a debridement of the left medial meniscus. His timetable to return is six to eight weeks.
“After (Phillies physician Michael) Ciccotti went in there and went in with the scope, it was a little better picture then we thought,” Amaro said. “I think the player is feeling better about it, we’re feeling better about it. As news goes, this is as good as we can get.”
Amaro said it probably changes the season’s outlook “because we’ll have him back. There’s a reasonable chance we’ll have him back at some point. We still have a lot of question marks about where we’re going to go in the next couple of weeks. Right now, the team is making decisions a little harder on me which is fine and which is good. I’d rather be in this situation than thinking about 2014 right now.”
Amaro met with Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, the Phillies coaching staff and others in the organization Tuesday, although he declined to call it an organizational meeting.
Regardless of what one calls it, the organization’s decision makers met to discuss the team leading to the July 31 Trade Deadline.
“There were no real revelations,” Amaro said. “We are playing better baseball and putting ourselves in a position to be buyers. But there was nothing new out of it.”
So they are leaning toward buying at this point?
“Yeah, I think we’ll try to do that,” he said.
The Phillies announced today Ryan Howard will have surgery to repair the torn medial meniscus in his left knee. He is expected to miss six to eight weeks from the date of the surgery, which has not been set. If Howard recovers as expected he could return to the lineup between late August and early September, but that is no guarantee.
“We have to take care of it,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “He’s going to have to have a procedure. It’s just a matter of who does it and when.”
Howard had a MRI exam today, which revealed the tear. The tear is new. He had a MRI exam in May, but that revealed only a fraying of the meniscus.
Amaro said the tear is similar to one found in Erik Kratz’s left knee. The Phillies issued the same six-to-eight week recovery period for Kratz following his June 12 surgery. He began a rehab assignment Monday with Triple-A Lehigh Valley and could rejoin the Phillies before the end of the week, which would put him two weeks ahead of schedule.
“He moved pretty quickly,” Amaro said of Kratz. “Hopefully we will have the same sort of timeframe. But everyone’s knee is different. We can only speculate the length of how long it will take to get him to rehab. We’ll shoot for the conservative one and hope he comes back faster.”
Howard had hit .266 with 11 home runs, 43 RBIs and .784 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 317 plate appearances before the injury. His presence in the lineup will be missed, but the Phillies are hoping rookie Darin Ruf will seize the opportunity.
Amaro said he expects Ruf to get the bulk of the playing time at first base while Howard is out.
Howard has a growing history of health problems with his left leg. Each of his four trips to the disabled list in his career have involved the left leg: strained left quadriceps in May 2007, sprained ligament in his left ankle in Aug. 2010, torn left Achilles in Oct. 2011 and now the torn meniscus in his left knee.
Howard also revealed yesterday he has a foot problem, although it is unclear how troublesome it is.
“He may have some discomfort there,” Amaro said. “I don’t know anything about his foot.”
The Phillies are hopeful the leg injuries have played a significant role in Howard’s decline offensively the past two seasons. Since the Achilles surgery he has hit a combined .244 with 25 home runs, 99 RBIs and a .752 OPS in 609 plate appearances over 151 games. He also has been one of the least productive hitters in baseball against left-handed pitchers.
Asked if the knee injury could be related to the Achilles injury, Amaro said, “It could have. Really, I couldn’t tell you that. It’s possible. Everything is connected.”
Amaro said the surgery will be scheduled after consulting with Howard’s agent, who will help them decide which doctor to perform the surgery.
“I’m encouraged,” Amaro said. “It could have been much more significant damage. We don’t want any of our players on the DL. But we know what it is and it’s treatable. Hopefully we can get him back in time to play this year.”
Charlie Manuel scratched him from the lineup a short time later. And shortly after that the Phillies announced they had placed Howard on the DL with knee inflammation. They recalled Darin Ruf from Triple-A to take his place on the roster.
Today was the 10th time in the Phillies’ last 45 games Howard had not started a game, and the fifth time in the team’s 11 games. Inflammation and tears in the meniscus in his knee are why. Howard received a cortisone injection in the knee May 19, but it didn’t provide him much relief.
It might be the most frustrated I’ve seen him when talking about his offense.
It started innocently enough with a few questions about Ryan Howard’s recent struggles and if they might be connected to his ailing left knee. Howard entered tonight’s game at Target Field with just one home run in his past 107 plate appearances. He is on pace to hit just 17 home runs with 77 RBIs this season and his .735 on-base-plus-slugging percentage ranks 100th out of 163 qualifying players in baseball.
That clearly is not the production the Phillies need from their cleanup hitter.
Asked if Manuel could hit somebody else fourth, Manuel said, “What the (heck) are you getting at? Who’s going to hit there? Let me ask you a question. Let me turn that around some. Write what you want to write.”
Well, how about Domonic Brown?
“I could put anybody in there, OK?” Manuel said. “I’ll do the managing. Whoever hits there, hits there.”
But it must be alarming for more than just Manuel that Howard’s production has been declining in recent seasons. The Phillies owe him $85 million following this year.
“Of course I’m concerned,” Manuel said. “I’m concerned with everybody. Hey, look, I’m concerned with every (single) player I’ve got. Yeah, I’m concerned. I want to win. We say that we want to win the division and we want to go to the World Series, right? I’m concerned about every one of our guys. I’m concerned about that (.247) batting average. I’m concerned about that. I’m not only concerned about one guy, I’m concerned about them all. How about that? I don’t know what I can do about it. I can go back to my room and sit there and look at the walls, and get up and come to the ballpark and look at the walls. I don’t know what I can do about it. The only thing I can do is to put them out there and let them play.”
Asked if he was upset about the offense or the questions concerning his offense, Manuel said, “A little of both, probably. We are inconsistent performance-wise. And when you’ve got that, it’s hard. We won five games in a row, then we lose four. That’s kind of how we’ve been playing.”
Get used to it.
Howard did not play yesterday in Washington because of the injured knee, which required a cortisone injection May 19. But he was in the lineup for tonight’s series opener against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
“Right now I’m just looking at it day to day,” he said. “Sometimes it’s a little more, sometimes it’s a little less. Obviously that’s going to be something. Right now I’m looking at it day to day, and trying to run with the good days.”
Howard said surgery is “obviously the worst-case scenario. I guess kind of if all else fails.”
But he said surgery has not been discussed at this point. But certainly a balky knee for a hulking first baseman that missed much of last season recovering from a ruptured left Achilles is cause for concern. Howard is in just the second year of a five-year, $125 million contract, which is the fifth-largest contract in baseball history based on average annual value ($25 million), and his on-base-plus-slugging percentage, a good indicator of a hitter’s overall productivity, has been in decline since 2009.
“His leg is going to always be bothering him,” Charlie Manuel said. “He has some arthritis. It comes and goes in his legs. He’s going to always be bothered by that. On the days when it really hurts him bad, maybe those are the guys where I have to communicate him. He has to tell me.”
Howard is hitting .254 with six home runs, 25 RBIs and a .719 OPS in 181 plate appearances. Howard is tied for 56th in RBIs and tied for 79th in home runs. In the past, he has been near the top in those categories.
Asked if he would drop Howard in the lineup, Manuel said, “He’s kind of different than all those other hitters. If he’s hitting the ball, he stands a good chance of knocking in runs. I don’t really think moving him in the lineup makes a whole lot of difference really. How he’s hitting on that day is how he’s hitting. Some days he has bad days and other days when he’s doing good … if anything, I don’t particularly like sending him a message. I don’t think it’s time in his career for me to send him a message.”
So the Phillies will have to hope Howard can manage the continual discomfort in his knee, which he acknowledges affects him at the plate.
“Obviously it plays a factor with it being my push-off leg, you try to get that extra torque,” he said. “But if I’m out there I’m trying to do what I have to do. I’m not making excuses.”