Results tagged ‘ Ryan Howard ’

Could Howard Return This Weekend?

Could Ryan Howard rejoin the Phillies this weekend?

It sure sounds like it.

“I guess it’s possible,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said this afternoon at Citi Field. “But we’ll see how he feels the next day or so.”

Howard has played six games in rehab assignments with Class A Lakewood and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He is hitting a combined .471 (8-for-17) with two doubles, one home run, nine RBIs, three walks and three strikeouts. The Phillies needed Chase Utley to play back-to-back games at second base before they considered activating him from the DL, but Howard might be different, although he is scheduled to play back-to-back games at first base tonight and tomorrow night with Lehigh Valley.

“He’s been progressing pretty good,” Amaro said. “We’ll see how he feels after tonight.”

Amaro said Howard is running fairly well, although “he’s had a tiny hitch in his giddy-up I guess, but when he’s running full speed he looks pretty smooth.”

It sounds like Howard thinks he’s ready to rejoin the Phillies.

“I think he thinks he’s ready,” Amaro said. “But we’ll see. We’re still talking with the docs and have people evaluating him every day. … If he plays this weekend (for the Phillies), it may not be the worst thing for him to get some time off. You just don’t know how he’ll react and what kind of adrenaline there will be. We’ll take it one day at a time with him.”

Reading between the lines we can make the following assumption: If Howard isn’t back this weekend, he should be back for the July 13-15 series against the Rockies immediately following the break. But both Amaro and Charlie Manuel said Howard will be evaluated after tonight’s game at Lehigh Valley. That makes you think they could give him the green light and activate him for tomorrow night’s game against the Braves.

If Ryan Howard continues on this path he should be back in the Phillies lineup sometime after the All-Star break.

But the big question for the Big Piece is this:

What kind of player will he be once he is back?

Howard has been on the disabled list since the season started following left Achilles surgery. His recovery has been a tedious process that has taken longer than expected. He suffered an infection in the heel in February, which put him considerably behind schedule. Lately he has been working out in Clearwater, Fla., participating in simulated games, but he will begin a rehab assignment with Class A Lakewood tomorrow.

He had some “functional testing” this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park, and visited team physician Michael Ciccotti before tonight’s game against the Pirates. Ciccotti gave the thumbs up, so Howard will be in Lakewood tomorrow. Position players get 20 days on a rehab assignment before they must return to the big leagues, if they are healthy. That means Howard should be back no later than July 18, barring any further setbacks.

Howard said today he is not sure when he will be 100 percent healthy. He acknowledged it might not be until next season.

“If it’s 80 percent, 85 percent, the only thing I can do is give you 100 percent of 85 percent,” he said.


Howard Back After Break?

Chase Utley is expected back in the Phillies lineup tomorrow, but what about the Big Piece?

Could Ryan Howard be back shortly after the All-Star break?

It looks like it. The Phillies announced today that Howard will return to Philadelphia tomorrow for “functional testing on his left Achilles.” If Howard passes those tests he will begin a rehab assignment Thursday with Class A Lakewood. Once a position player begins a rehab assignment he has 20 days before he must be activated, unless there is a setback. That means if Howard took the full 20 days he could be back no later than July 18, or six games following the All-Star break.

Howard has been on the disabled list since the season started because of left Achilles surgery. He suffered a setback because of an infection in the heel in February. Charlie Manuel spoke to Howard on the telephone Monday.

“More than likely, the way things look, it’ll be after the All-Star break,” Manuel said. “He feels real good. He still says that when he runs he’s got a little limp. He says, ‘I want to play and I feel like I can play.’ He says, ‘I don’t know if I’ll be where you want me to be or not,’ but at the same time he’s got to be able to go play and be able to do some things. He feels like he’s getting there. He’s very positive about where he’s at when I talked with him.”

Utley, Howard, Halladay and More

Ruben Amaro Jr. took a seat in the Phillies dugout before tonight’s game against the Dodgers to offer updates on the nine players on the disabled list.

That’s nine, folks.

Here we go:

Chase Utley (chondromalacia left knee). He did not play in an extended Spring Training game Tuesday in Clearwater, Fla., but he will play Wednesday as a designated hitter. There are no extended Spring Training games again until June 12, so in the meantime Utley will participate in simulated games and continue his regular workouts. Amaro said it is unlikely Utley begins an official rehab assignment until he plays in that second round of extended Spring Training games June 12-14. “Generally, Chase, when he’s ready to go he’ll let us know,” Amaro said. “Just like he did on Sunday.” Amaro would not say if Utley could be back before the All-Star break, but if Utley begins a rehab assignment June 15 he would have 20 days to get himself ready to rejoin the team. That would put him at July 5.

Ryan Howard (left Achilles surgery). He will hit in Wednesday’s extended Spring Training game, but he will not run or play in the field. Amaro said Howard has been jogging and doing some light sprinting, but said, “His calf just isn’t strong enough to really do full-out sprint work. I don’t know what the percentage is, 50 percent, 40 percent 60 percent, I really don’t know.”

Roy Halladay (strained right latissimus dorsi). Everybody has been awaiting the second opinion from Mets physician David Altchek, but Amaro said, “There’s not going to really be much difference in the prognosis.” The Phillies sent Altcheck results from previous MRIs on Friday and they just arrived in New York on Tuesday morning. Amaro said Halladay has started some shoulder exercises and other upper body work. “He’s doing pretty well,” Amaro said. “This morning’s report was he was symptom free and doing some of the exercises, so that’s a good sign.” Halladay could begin throwing again at the three week mark.

Jim Thome (lower back strain). He could rejoin the team in time for this weekend’s interleague series in Baltimore. It sounds like Thome will only DH and pinch-hit upon his return to the big leagues, which could be an issue. But playing in the field certainly seems out of the question. Can Thome be effective as a full-time pinch-hitter after these nine interleague road games? “I don’t know,” Amaro said. “That’s a good question. We’ll find out.”

Laynce Nix (strained left calf). He will head to Clearwater following Thursday’s game to pick up his rehab. “He’s been progressing pretty good, too,” Amaro said.

Mike Stutes (right shoulder inflammation) and David Herndon (right elbow inflammation). Amaro said they are progressing slowly.

Justin De Fratus (strained right elbow). He is throwing from 75 feet. “Hopefully we can get him going in the next couple weeks,” Amaro said.

Jose Contreras (strained right elbow). No surgery has been scheduled yet.

Turning Thome Loose

Jim Thome stepped into the batter’s box in the ninth inning Tuesday to face Diamondbacks left-hander Mike Zagurski.

He took two sliders for strikes and one for a ball before he struck out swinging on a fastball.

Too many of Thome’s at-bats have looked like that through 19 games. The Phillies signed him in November to be a late-inning threat, but so far he is 2-for-17 with two walks and 10 strikeouts overall and 0-for-8 with six strikeouts as a pinch-hitter. That is a small sample size, much like Freddy Galvis‘ 0-for-12 start was a small sample size (although there were folks who absolutely knew Galvis could not play in the big leagues based on those 12 at-bats.) But there is no question Thome doesn’t look good at the plate. Charlie Manuel was asked Wednesday morning if he needs to play him more to try to get him sharp. Manuel said in spring training he thought Thome could play more than once a week at first base while Ryan Howard is injured, but so far Thome has started just three times.


Howard Could Begin Comeback Next Week

The Phillies are optimistic Ryan Howard will be cleared to begin baseball activities next week.

And once he begins they believe they can be aggressive with his rehab.

Howard suffered a setback in February, when he developed an infection in his left heel following surgery to repair a ruptured left Achilles. The infection required a second surgical procedure, and it has taken a long time to heal.

In fact, the wound has not completely healed. But the Phillies will immobilize Howard over the next week, minimizing his lower-body workouts, to put him in position to begin his comeback.


Howard, Pence Injury Updates

The Phillies just e-mailed this news release regarding Ryan Howard and Hunter Pence:

After seeing the wound specialist in Philadelphia yesterday, Ryan Howard’s wound has gotten smaller and is healing. We’ve been advised to limit his activities for one more week to allow it to continue to heal. We hope that he will be able to re-start his baseball activities thereafter.

Additionally, Hunter Pence will undergo a precautionary MRI on his left shoulder (non-throwing) here in Phoenix. We hope to have the results later this afternoon.


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.

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Cover Your Eyes

Freddy Galvis has no reason to hang his head. He has played brilliant defense, and is hitting .214 with four doubles, one home run and five RBIs through 17 games. Those five extra-base hits are tied with Carlos Ruiz for the team lead. Not bad for a guy that had just 121 at-bats above Double-A Reading before this season.

It’s the rest of the offense that has played terribly.

That is why the Phillies clung to the five runs they scored in the ninth inning in last night’s 9-5 loss to the Diamondbacks.

Charlie Manuel called it a morale booster.


Chase Utley would not offer a timetable for his return, but I would not be surprised if he is back before June 1. He returned to action on May 23 last season, and Utley sure seemed pleased with his progress when we talked to him yesterday. We asked Charlie Manuel if Utley could play some first base upon his return, especially if Ryan Howard is still on the DL. Manuel would not rule out the possibility, but he did not say it was something he was considering, either.


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.


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.


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.


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