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Ryan Howard is six weeks from starting baseball activities

Jan 6, 2012, 10:15 AM EDT

Ryan Howard

Ryan Howard met with a doctor yesterday and was given positive news about his recovery from a torn Achilles’ tendon suffered during his final at-bat of the playoffs in October.

Todd Zolecki of reports that Howard has been cleared “to begin some strength and power exercises” and “also will start jogging underwater.”

However, he likely remains at least six weeks away from being cleared for baseball activities, which stretches right up until the beginning of spring training and makes him doubtful for Opening Day (and perhaps all of April).

General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. declined to “speculate” about Howard’s odds of being ready for season opener, but classified the update on his recovery as “good news.”

Expect the Phillies to begin the season with Ty Wigginton and perhaps a little bit of Jim Thome at first base, but barring a setback it sounds like Howard could be available sooner than initially expected.

  1. uyf1950 - Jan 6, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    Six weeks from starting baseball activities. That puts it at about March 1st. just about the beginning of spring training.

    I realize Amaro declined to speculate but I presume that means he will probably miss the 1st month maybe the first 6 weeks of the regular season. Is that a reasonable assumption?

    • Jonny 5 - Jan 6, 2012 at 10:35 AM

      I think you’re about right uyf, I’d say at least 6 weeks from playing part time in AAA. I don’t see him back with the big club for the first 2 months of the season.

      • chadjones27 - Jan 6, 2012 at 10:57 AM

        I think the key wording is “baseball activities.” If he’s only running underwater now, in 6 weeks I assume they allow to run (jog) on dirt. So, yeah, i think you’re right, he won’t be back for at least the 1st 2 months of the season. I wasn’t expecting him back till the all star break. Time to get your Ty Wigginton jerseys out (bought).

      • somekat - Jan 6, 2012 at 1:23 PM

        They key word is in fact baseball activities. They expect him to be cleared for that in 6 weeks. Jogging on dirt is not baseball activities, it is jogging on dirt. Baseball activity would be any and all actions done while playing baseball.

        My guess is, he is at spring training, but on a light program compared to the rest of the team, and with days off if any pain/soreness comes up. When the real season starts, I would expect him to be in baseball shape by mid April (again, assuming the doctors are correct), and with a few weeks stint in the minors to get his timing down, I’d expect him early to mid May.

        All in all, great news for a Phils team that even with all their pitching, would of had a big power whole to fill in their lineup. Much easier to do for 5-6 weeks than it would be for 4-5 months

    • chaseutley - Jan 6, 2012 at 3:33 PM

      Six weeks from today (Jan. 6) is February 17.
      While I haven’t seen an official announcement on when the Phillies are supposed to report, a lot of teams aren’t looking for position players to report until a week after that.

  2. cshearing - Jan 6, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    His status for Opening Day is in doubt? Last I heard, he was going to be out until the All-Star break. So this is good news, yes? Not sure why it seems to be spun as a negative.

  3. crispybasil - Jan 6, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    “Expect the Phillies to begin the season with Ty Wigginton and perhaps a little bit of Jim Thome at first base.”

    Best. Platoon. Ever.

  4. areyesrn - Jan 6, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    i’d be fine if he came back after the all star break

  5. spudchukar - Jan 6, 2012 at 11:36 AM

    Any notions that he would be back before June 1st, was wishful thinking. Good luck in his recovery, the Phils will need his productivity to compete.

    • ame123 - Jan 6, 2012 at 4:23 PM

      A 102 win team doesn’t need a single player as much as you think.

      • JBerardi - Jan 6, 2012 at 7:55 PM

        Well, unless that one player is part of their front three starters.

  6. muckthefets23 - Jan 6, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    I’m not even sure he’ll be completely healthy by the all star break let alone opening day. He may be the slowest healing human being on earth.

  7. drmonkeyarmy - Jan 6, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    I think all you who are speculating are full of shit.

    • spudchukar - Jan 6, 2012 at 12:13 PM

      Witty and meaningful repartee.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jan 6, 2012 at 12:24 PM

        More like succinct and truthful. Sometimes the most effective way to get ones point across is by using less words.

      • spudchukar - Jan 6, 2012 at 12:38 PM

        Particularly if those comments bring light rather than heat.

  8. lancer255 - Jan 6, 2012 at 11:48 AM

    He needs to play when he is healthy

  9. gallaghedj311 - Jan 6, 2012 at 12:10 PM

    I’ll be shocked if he’s back before June 1st. With that said, I don’t see the phillies missing a beat, regardless of Ryan’s return….

    • spudchukar - Jan 6, 2012 at 12:35 PM

      Why wouldn’t the Pheelies be impacted by the Howard absence? Certainly Thome’s and Wigginton’s presence at 1B in his stead would hurt the team’s productivity.

      • CJ - Jan 6, 2012 at 1:05 PM

        Ah yes, this is the part where Phillies fans can brush this off by using all of that “Ryan Howard is average at best” talk against the same people that brought it up in the first place.

        You know, the same people who said Ryan Howard isn’t an MVP, he’s an average at best first baseman, his WAR is horrible even though Ross FREAKING Gload is his backup. Who happen to be many of the same people who now say, yep, the Phillies are screwed because Ryan Howard is irreplacable.

        Funny how the world works.

      • spudchukar - Jan 6, 2012 at 1:41 PM

        If Hardball Talk is any indication, Pheelie Phans need for an excuse to support their delusional assessment of their team isn’t needed. The management seems to be drinking the same Kool-Aid, with the off-season inactivity.

        As for Ryan Howard, the good ‘ol St. Louis product, my criticism has been to those who champion his defense, his inability to hit lefties, and his susceptibility to off-speed pitches.

      • phillieschamps2012 - Jan 6, 2012 at 1:49 PM

        Ryan Howard is an average to above average defender at 1st base. He has improved immensely at 1st. He may not hit lefties well, but more than makes up with his great power and knack for driving in runs.

        Ryan will come back after missing a few weeks to a month and still hit over 30 HRs and drive in over 100 rbi’s. I’ll take that production any day of the week.

      • Jonny 5 - Jan 6, 2012 at 2:30 PM

        “off-season inactivity”

        Sudschicken, c’mon they signed the biggest name as a closer, and Thome. Traded for Wiggington. They also locked up the best SS free agent on the market this off season. Your Cards were just as, if not more inactive this off season so far. Get a grip. There weren’t many FA’s this season that fit their needs plain and simple. Plus as you know all too well as a Cards fan, money doesn’t grow on trees. Or they would have kept their best player (not saying his contract wouldn’t hurt them in the long run).

      • spudchukar - Jan 6, 2012 at 3:25 PM

        I define inactivity as failing to improve your club. The Pheelies’ glaring weakness was offense, especially against quality pitchers. Poor OBP, easy outs, and failure in the clutch. So what have the Pheelies done, address their bench. As if that was what caused their failure.

        Resigning Rollins was important, but does not improve. To date, 3B is still occupied by the recovering Polanco. The first two months, with Howard shelved, Thome and Wigginton will man the position. The overworked Chooch still searches for a future contract, and has no back-up who can be counted on to contribute offensively.

        Somehow Lance Nix was chosen to replace the marginally productive Raul Ibanez. Helluvan upgrade.

        The aging Pheels are one year older, and can only point to a full year of Pence as the only reason for offensive optimism. Maybe Papelbon is a slight tick better than Madsen, but that hardly overshadows the loss of Oswalt.

        But, hey look out for the bench.

      • Jonny 5 - Jan 6, 2012 at 3:46 PM

        Redefining words now huh? And they were squarely in the middle of the pack last season offensively before acquiring Pence. I’d say “Glaring weakness” is something else you’ve redefined too?

      • CJ - Jan 6, 2012 at 4:01 PM

        so if “inactivity” is defined as “failing to improve your club”

        What is the Cardinals’ offseason called when the best player in baseball leaves the team? “Deactivity?” “Return to sucktitudity?”

      • ame123 - Jan 6, 2012 at 4:26 PM

        Didn’t know 102 win teams need major overhauls. Who knew.

      • spudchukar - Jan 6, 2012 at 5:21 PM

        First off this was a post about Ryan Howard and the Phillies. Second, no one was more critical of the Cards management’s failure to pay Pujols what he was worth. Will the Cards be better without Pujols, absolutely not. His defense, base-running, leadership and durability alone are worth at least 5 wins a season, not to mention his bat and OBP.

        However, the Cards have re-upped with Furcal, a huge improvement over their “glaring weakness” at SS in 2011. Beltran is no Pujols, but his upgrade in the OF will help alleviate the falloff at 1B, and overall with Furcal the defense should be just as good, better perhaps if Beltran handles CF well.

        Of course the real upgrade is in the starting staff, with a return of Wainwright. And more and more it sounds like Oswalt will move into the #3 position, and with Lohse and Garcia at #4 & #5.

        In addition, the bullpen is solid, no more Franklin, Batista, and worthless LOOGYs, with the emergence of Lynn, Boggs, Sanchez ,Scrabble and Salas with Motte finishing.

        Unlike the Pheelie young hopeful outfielders, the Cards kids have proven for 2 consecutive years that they are for real.

        So will the Cards be better in 2012? Who knows, probably not without Albert, but it isn’t like we are the moribund Phillies.

      • chadjones27 - Jan 6, 2012 at 8:03 PM

        Can we please get that into the common vernacular. I’d love to hear that used on a more regular basis.

  10. rexadelphia8 - Jan 6, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    He needs to hit better pitches and become a prince Albert , get it

  11. muckthefets23 - Jan 6, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    I feel the need to clarify my previous comment about him being a slow healer. I think Ryan is a good ball player but as I saw it last year he wasn’t completely healed from the ankle injury and it hindered his already limited base running ability and his defensive movement. So I guess what I meant to say was its probably better he take as long as he needs to be 100% not 75% and play through pain. I think the Phils will be just fine until he gets back. We have a healthy pence and big John will have more playing time which i can’t speak for anyone else but I think is a plus. Thome and Wigginton can hold the fort down at first and we should have a healthy Chase Utley and JRoll.

    • phillieschamps2012 - Jan 6, 2012 at 2:16 PM

      I agree 100% with you. If he needs to take longer to come back to make sure he’s fully healed, I’m OK with that. I think their offense will actually be better this year anyway. Much stronger bench, having Pence for the entire year and Mayberry Jr. should be better.

    • Jonny 5 - Jan 6, 2012 at 2:17 PM

      Ankles though, are quite a bit more tricky for an athlete to deal with. I sprained my ankle and felt the effects of it for 2 years afterward. I’m sure that even today my right ankle isn’t as strong as my left.

  12. muckthefets23 - Jan 6, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    Jonny I agree with you on that too but if my anatomy knowledge serves me correctly the Achilles is the stabilizing tendon for said ankle. My fear now is that if he rushes back too soon this will be far worse than the ankle sprain. His decision on this could make or break his ability to play for a very long time. Although this could be said for almost any injury that isn’t treated properly.

    • Jonny 5 - Jan 6, 2012 at 2:32 PM

      I’m with you. He must be right before he comes back. This is one curious injury to begin with. His Achilles must have been damaged prior, because swing a bat should not do that to a man with a healthy tendon imo.

  13. muckthefets23 - Jan 6, 2012 at 2:56 PM

    Yea a healthy tendon shouldn’t rupture from swinging a bat and it is very curious as to what he was doing to cause it to weaken in the first place.

    • ame123 - Jan 6, 2012 at 4:28 PM

      He was dealing with bursitis and took multiple cortisone shots.

      Cortisone is an indirect, rather than a direct, cause of Achilles tendon injury. Cortisone can make a weakened Achilles tendon feel too comfortable. A patient who has received cortisone shots in or near the Achilles tendon may be able to overly stretch or strain their Achilles tendon without any pain – until they stretch or strain it to the point of rupture

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