Results tagged ‘ Ryan Howard ’

Going the Wrong Way

Good morning from Arizona.

A few thoughts/facts on one of baseball’s worst offenses through 16 games:

  • The Phillies have a .283 on-base percentage, .317 slugging percentage and 2.69 runs per game average. No team (in either league) has finished a season with a lower OBP since the 1968 Mets (.281), a lower SLG since the 1972 Rangers (.290) or a lower runs per game average since the 1942 Phillies (2.61). So unless you think the 2012 Phillies are one of the worst offenses in baseball history, they will improve. But how much? And will it happen in enough time to make a difference?
  • The Phillies have scored two or fewer runs in 10 games, and in 5 of their last 6.
  • We could see Chase Utley at the ballpark today, while Ryan Howard is scheduled to see a wound specialist in Philadelphia. Is there any shot the Phillies get good news from both?
  • I’m an Utley skeptic at this point because he proved to be no better than an average big-league hitter last season. It’s just difficult to believe he will return to All-Star form when he is still battling the same knee problems. (His .769 OPS last year would have ranked 77th out of 146 hitters had he qualified for the statistic.) But here’s something interesting: From April 1 through May 22 last season without Utley in the lineup, the Phillies averaged 3.83 runs per game with a .312 OBP and .364 SLG. From May 23 through July 29 with Utley in the lineup, the Phillies averaged 4.71 runs per game with a .329 OBP and .407 SLG. And from July 30 through the end of the regular season with Utley and Hunter Pence in the lineup, the Phillies averaged 4.54 runs per game with a .324 OBP and a .406 SLG. It is possible even an average Utley can make that much of a difference in the lineup’s performance? It’s something worth thinking about.
  • Jim Thome has 2 hits and 9 strikeouts in 16 at-bats. I’ve had fans ask me if they think he is finished. But I’ve got a crazy idea: Play Thome more. If Charlie Manuel believes Thome needs more at-bats, which he said yesterday, then give them to him. What does Manuel have to lose? There had been talk in spring training that Thome might be able to play as many as two games in the field every week. Maybe even three. What happened to that? Thome has started just three times this season. If Thome plays more and his back flares up, it’s not like his absence is going to kill the offense, as little as he has played and as little as he has contributed as a pinch-hitter. (He’s 0-for-7 with 5 strikeouts as a pinch-hitter.) And as much as Thome has struck out, he also has given the Phillies some of their most “professional” at-bats. He is averaging 4.50 pitches per plate appearance. The next closest Phillies players with 16 or more at-bats are Juan Pierre (4.02) and Placido Polanco (3.94). So turn Thome loose. Let’s see how much he has left in the tank. If he produces, great. If he can’t handle the job physically or he continues to struggle, well, then you know.
  • Oh, and when Thome starts hit him fourth and Pence third. Maybe Pence would be more comfortable hitting somewhere other than cleanup. He has never hit more than 25 homers or had more than 97 RBIs in a season. Cleanup isn’t his spot, at least when Thome is playing.
  • I’ve gotten lots of e-mails and tweets about Domonic Brown, but he is hitting just .263 (15-for-57) with four doubles, one triple and eight RBIs in 15 games with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He has a .311 on-base percentage and a .368 slugging percentage. As much as John Mayberry Jr. has struggled, I can’t see the Phillies considering Brown as the solution in left field with a .680 OPS in Triple-A.

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Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here! Here are our upcoming book signings:

  • April 26: Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ, 7 p.m.
  • April 29: Citizens Bank Park, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
  • May 10: Tredyfrrin Public Library in Stafford, PA, 7:30 p.m.
  • June 2: Citizens Bank Park, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Check out my Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter.

Howard, Utley Injury Updates (And More!!!!!)

Got injury updates for you:

  • Ryan Howard. He visited a wound specialist at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital today. “His wound is still healing,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “He’s doing well. We’re continuing the same deal.” There is no timetable for Howard’s return. “The biggest challenge was for the wound to get to the skin from how deep it was,” Amaro said. “It’s getting there. It’s getting pretty close. … The question is when does he start doing stuff so it doesn’t compromise the healing process? We’re still on hold as far as that is concerned. Hopefully we’ll know more in the next couple of days.”
  • Chase Utley. Utley, who is sidelined because of a chronically injured left knee, continues to rehab in Phoenix. He is expected to rejoin the team next week, when the Phillies travel to Arizona to play the Diamondbacks. “His strength seems to be improving,” Amaro said. “He’s moving forward.” There is no timetable for Utley’s return.
  • Michael Martinez. Martinez has a fractured right foot. He will be in a walking boot for another two weeks, when team physician Michael Ciccotti will evaluate him.
  • Justin De Fratus. He is rehabbing from a sprained right elbow, and could pitch in an extended Spring Training game Thursday. He could begin a rehab assignment shortly after that. “He’s making very good progress,” Amaro said.

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Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here!
Here are our upcoming book signings:

  • April 26: Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ, 7 p.m.
  • April 29: Citizens Bank Park, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
  • May 10: Tredyfrrin Public Library in Stafford, PA, 7:30 p.m.
  • June 2: Citizens Bank Park, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Check out my Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter.

Don’t Look at Galvis, Look Elsewhere

Freddy Galvis started his big-league career 0-for-12, but with one swing he picked up one quarter of his team’s RBIs.

That’s how anemic the Phillies offense has been.

He has one hit and has knocked in two of his team’s eight runs.

Galvis has been getting a lot of attention since the season started. First, he is replacing Chase Utley. Second, he could not get a hit until the fourth game of the season. Third, the entire offense is struggling. All of a sudden a rookie second baseman who is keeping the position warm until Utley returns (whenever that is: May? June? July?) became the focal point of the offense. What are they going to do with this guy? They can’t continue to play him there! Why don’t they start Pete Orr or Ty Wigginton at second base? Can they make a trade? When is Utley coming back?!?!

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Galvis Watch: Day 2

Who expected a bruised left foot for Freddy Galvis would be such a big deal in late March?

Galvis, who seemed very unlikely to make the Opening Day roster before camp opened last month, is expected to be the team’s everyday second baseman while Chase Utley recovers from his chronically injured knees. But then Galvis fouled a pitch off the top of his left foot in yesterday’s game against the Pirates, suffering a bruise and making people fear the worst.

“I feel much better today,” Galvis said this morning.

Galvis, who was walking without a limp, said a team doctor examined him in the morning.

“Everything was good,” he said.

Galvis had been scheduled to take the trip to Fort Myers to play the Twins in a Grapefruit League game this afternoon, but there is no reason to push his health, considering Utley, Ryan Howard and Michael Martinez already are opening the season on the disabled list.

Galvis said he hopes he can play as early as Thursday.

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Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here!
Here are our upcoming book signings:

  • April 2: Barnes & Noble in Plymouth Meeting, PA, 7 p.m.
  • April 3: Chester County Book Company in West Chester, PA, 7 p.m.
  • April 26: Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ, 7 p.m.

Dom Down

The Phillies optioned Domonic Brown to Minor League camp this morning.

Brown had trouble getting on the field this month. He sprained his right thumb March 8 and suffered from a stiff neck for the past week, limiting him to just seven Grapefruit League games. He hit .300 (6 for 20) with two triples, one home run, two RBIs, one walk and a .983 OPS, but also showed he needed more work in left field, which has been a struggle.

Brown, although not surprised, was clearly disappointed.

“Life goes on,” he said. “I’m going to go down there and play hard. And that’s it. I was not expecting it, but keeping it in the back of my mind. We’ve got a lot of big-name free agent guys. John Mayberry is playing well. They just told me they want to see me out there every day, so Triple-A is the best spot for it. I’ve been through a lot these last couple years. A lot more than some veteran guys, so I think I can deal with it. I think I can handle it. Go down there and play hard and that’s all I can do.”

The Phillies said in the offseason they planned to have Brown start the season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he can work on his offense and defense. The Phillies believe they have enough options in left field to open the season, even with Mayberry expected to play some first base while Ryan Howard is out. Laynce Nix and Juan Pierre, who is the favorite to be the team’s fifth outfielder, can play left field when Mayberry is at first.

Asked if playing in Triple-A will at least give him a clear mind, Brown said, “No, I wanted to be here, man. That’s the goal, but things happen.”

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Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here!
Here are our upcoming book signings:

  • April 2: Barnes & Noble in Plymouth Meeting, PA, 7 p.m.
  • April 3: Chester County Book Company in West Chester, PA, 7 p.m.
  • April 26: Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ, 7 p.m.

Bye Bye Boot

Ryan Howard said Tuesday he hoped to lose the protective boot on his left foot sometime in the next two weeks.

But he showed up this morning at Bright House Field without the boot and worked out without the boot. Good news? Well, it’s not bad news, which has been coming every day lately for the Phillies infield. Placido Polanco sprained his left ring finger Saturday, although he took batting practice Thursday. Chase Utley left the team Monday to have an unknown specialist in an undisclosed location – although he had been spotted this week in the Phoenix area – look at his bad knees. Utility infielder Michael Martinez then broke his right foot Tuesday, leaving the Phillies incredibly thin in the infield.

So a bootless Howard is arguably the best news the Phillies have received in a while. He had surgery to repair his ruptured left Achilles in October. He had been progressing nicely, but an infection developed last month, which required a second surgical procedure to remove sutures that had not dissolved. Howard had been in the boot for more than three weeks to let the second wound heal.

“I don’t think it really set me back,” Howard insisted. “Because I think the biggest concern was my tendon and the tendon was never an issue. The tendon was repaired in October. So even with me not doing what I was doing before from a rehab standpoint, the tendon is still getting stronger, a little bit every day. So now I can get back to doing more strength-training stuff. So I don’t think it was really a setback at all. … It’s one of those things where I’ve looked at it as a blessing in disguise”

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Halladay: I’m Fine

Phillies fans are on edge these days because of the uncertainties and mysteries surrounding Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.

Yesterday didn’t help.

FOXSports.com cited two NL scouts that expressed concern about Roy Halladay’s lack of velocity and sharpness in Grapefruit League play. Now, the story never said Halladay was injured, but mentioning Howard, Utley and Halladay in the story’s lead had Phillies fans inferring Halladay’s arm is falling off.

Asked what he would he say about any speculation he might have an arm issue, Halladay said, “Yeah, I heard about that. Poor reporting on the extreme end of poor reporting. It couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Of course, Halladay acknowledged his velocity is down a bit this spring.

“Yeah, I’m 34 and 2,500 innings, it does take a while to get going,” he said. “I don’t pay attention to that. The older you get, the more you throw, the longer it takes you to get yourself going. When I came up I threw 98. Last year I was throwing 92-93. It’s not unusual. When you get older it takes you longer. The more innings you throw the more it takes to get yourself going again.

“I think it’s hard, the older you get and the more Spring Trainings you’re around, you can try and have as much intensity as you can, but it’s just not the same. I think once you get closer and you’re really not working on stuff and you’re trying to pitch, it’s a little different level of competition. It’s all part of it. Would I like to be throwing 98 right now? Yeah. That would be great. But I don’t expect that’s going to happen.”

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Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here!
Here are our upcoming book signings:

  • March 19: Bright House Field in Clearwater, FL, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • April 2: Barnes & Noble in Plymouth Meeting, PA, 7 p.m.
  • April 3: Chester County Book Company in West Chester, PA, 7 p.m.
  • April 26: Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ, 7 p.m.

Howard: No Timetable for Return

Ryan Howard spoke to reporters a few minutes ago about his recovery from an infection in his left Achilles.

Here are some highlights:

Q: Has this been upsetting?
A: No, man. I’ve been good. I’ve just tried to stay positive through the entire thing. These kinds of things happen. The only thing you can do is stay positive. If you start to get down on yourself it’s not going to help the situation either way. I’m just looking at it as a positive, trying to keep it on the up and up.

Q: Is the infection gone?
A: I would hope so. I mean, they operated on it. I would hope that it’s out of there. Now just continue to take those precautions and just wait for everything to heal up.

Q: How much longer in the boot?
A: I don’t know. I mean, guess right now we’re just waiting for the skin to heal up. I mean, that’s really what the purpose of the boot is. I think people see me in the boot they think it’s a lot worse than what it really is. Right now we’re just trying to protect the skin and protect the wound and let it heal up. Once it heals up then I’ll be out of the boot.

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Howard Is Here, Nine Others Are Gone

Ryan Howard is in the Phillies clubhouse this morning. He’s still wearing his walking boot, which he required after a surgical procedure near his left Achilles Feb. 27. Howard has appeared in the clubhouse at least a couple times since the surgery, but today appears to be the first day he is going to stick around for a while.

So, hopefully, we’ll hear from him later.

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The Phillies sent nine players to Minor League camp:

Reassigned: Right-handers Dave Bush, Austin Hyatt and B.J Rosenberg; and left-hander and Pat Misch.
Optioned: Infielders Harold Garcia and Cesar Hernandez; outfielder Tyson Gillies; catcher Sebastian Valle and right-hander J.C. Ramirez.

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Here’s today’s lineup vs. Minnesota:

  1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
  2. Placido Polanco, 3B
  3. Shane Victorino, CF
  4. Hunter Pence, RF
  5. Ty Wigginton, 1B
  6. John Mayberry Jr., LF
  7. Domonic Brown, DH
  8. Carlos Ruiz, C
  9. Freddy Galvis, 2B

Roy Halladay is on the mound.

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Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here!
Here are our upcoming book signings:

  • March 19: Bright House Field in Clearwater, FL, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • April 2: Barnes & Noble in Plymouth Meeting, PA, 7 p.m.
  • April 3: Chester County Book Company in West Chester, PA, 7 p.m.
  • April 26: Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ, 7 p.m.

Howard, Utley Updates

Ruben Amaro Jr. offered some updates on Ryan Howard and Chase Utley this morning at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland:

  • Ryan Howard. Amaro said Howard will have his walking boot on for at least a week. “Maybe longer,” he said. Amaro said the infection is OK. “We’re just being really cautious with it,” he said. “The wound itself has to heal. He’s doing fine. We just want to make sure it heals. It’ll heal. … We just want to make sure we don’t have any more recurrence of any infections at all.” Because Howard is wearing the boot he has done little if anything in terms of conditioning or staying in shape.
  • Chase Utley. Utley is hitting, but not really doing much of anything else on the field. (The Phillies said at the beginning of camp they planned to bring along Utley slowly because of his chronic right knee condition, but the fact he has missed the first week of games is surprising.) “We’ve been keeping him off his feet,” Amaro said. He said he expects Utley to play at some point this spring, but could not say if he would play within the week. Amaro said it’s a decision between the club, doctors and Utley. The Phillies think Utley needs 30-40 at-bats to get ready for the season. They said that shouldn’t be a problem with Minor League Spring Training games beginning Monday.
  • Jose Contreras. He threw a bullpen today and is close to pitching in games.

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Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here!

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