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Ryan Howard takes first round of live batting practice

Feb 22, 2012, 8:37 PM EDT

ryan howard reuters Reuters

Phillies slugger Ryan Howard is slowly but surely making progress from the torn Achilles tendon that he suffered on the final play of the 2011 NLDS.

According to the AP, via, Howard took batting practice from a live pitcher Wednesday in Phillies camp for the first time since the injury.

The first baseman spoke to a group of reporters shortly after the workout and sounded optimistic:

“I feel good where I am right now,” Howard said. “I don’t know what everybody else’s expectations were for me to be at this point, but I feel good. Not exactly where I want to be yet. There is still a lot of strengthening that needs to take place, change of direction and working on those kinds of things. But I feel all right.

I’ve been talking with the training staff and I’ve been able to do some things, taking some ground balls, doing some hitting, doing baseball-type movements.”

Early projections had Howard returning at some point in May, and he seems to be on track. The 32-year-old batted .253/.346/.488 with 33 home runs, 30 doubles and 116 RBI in 152 games last season.

  1. kandh2004 - Feb 22, 2012 at 8:44 PM

    Man that batting line sucks right Craig

    • oasiserfede - Feb 22, 2012 at 10:02 PM

      20, 20, 25, 25 and 25 million for a platoon guy……..yup, it’s still funny.

      • ame123 - Feb 22, 2012 at 10:41 PM

        Platoon guy that leads all of baseball in HRs and RBIs since coming up.

      • paperlions - Feb 23, 2012 at 7:44 AM

        That line is not very good for an offense only 1B.

        I know people love to say his defense has improved. It hasn’t. He was a slightly below average defender for a few years, the last 2 years have been his worst defensively. As he ages, that will just keep getting worse.

        He has been among the worst base runners in the league his entire career, and that is getting worse, too.

        Among qualified 1B last year, he ranked 11th in wRC+ out of 24 guys. First base is a sluggers position, what he did offensively last year was average for his position. He’s been in a fairly steady decline since his awesome year in 2006. That $125M over the next 5 years is going to be very lucky if it pays for average 1B production.

    • dondada10 - Feb 22, 2012 at 10:52 PM

      Wait, Drew Silva wrote this piece.

      • Drew Silva - Feb 22, 2012 at 10:55 PM

        And he now regrets the lack of snark in it.

  2. dondada10 - Feb 22, 2012 at 8:49 PM

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Howard’s return is closer to early May than late May.

    The NL East is a lot tougher than it was last year.

  3. phillyfanmatt - Feb 22, 2012 at 11:54 PM

    Since when has Ryan Howard ever been a platoon guy. Except when he has been out because of injury and not including the 19 games he played when first called up and the 88 he played the year he won rookie of the year. He has played in 920 games in his 6 FULL seasons or an avg of 153 games a season. That means he sits out an avg of 9 games a year. I guess that’s the definition of a platoon guy. What a moron some people are.

    • paperlions - Feb 23, 2012 at 7:37 AM

      Let’s investigate:

      Howards wRC+ versus lefties starting in 2005:

      -1 (I don’t recall ever seeing a negative WRC+ before, this comes with an OBP of .175 and a SLG of .246, not a lot of ABs though)

      126 (good)
      105 (good enough)
      88 (not good)
      70 (horrible)
      120 (good)
      74 (horrible)

      So he’s been a platoon player (one only capable against right handers) pretty much since 2008.

      • bjavie - Feb 23, 2012 at 11:10 AM

        That’s got to be the dumbest thing I have ever read.

      • paperlions - Feb 23, 2012 at 11:13 AM

        Those are simply facts. A wRC+ below 90 (for any split) is horrible for a 1B. Ryan Howard can not hit left handers, ergo, by definition, he should be a platoon player.

        It may be the thing you least wanted to read that was true, or the thing you’ve read with which you most disagree, but it is most certainly not the dumbest thing you’ve ever read.

  4. Jonny 5 - Feb 23, 2012 at 8:33 AM

    The last two seasons of Howard fighting injuries have made him a very easy target as his positives are barely outweighing his negatives anymore. He’s still a + War player despite the injuries that have plagued him and I just hope he gets back on track very soon so he can cease being the prime example of an overpaid 1st baseman.

    • paperlions - Feb 23, 2012 at 9:03 AM

      I too hope he comes back healthy…the world is better when there are more great baseball players doing incredible things. I don’t think I ever judge Howard himself, he’s a class act, very nice guy, does a bunch of charity and stuff with kids. I’m just providing facts about his baseball performance in the proper context.

      I don’t think he will cease being a prime example of an over-paid player any time soon (it just isn’t realistic to expect him to live up to a $20-25M salary at this given his age and career trajectory….but he will be replaced as the primary example by Pujols in about 5 years.

      Being plus war isn’t particularly good…and average regular is a 2 war player.

  5. phillyfanmatt - Feb 23, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    Key word in what you said is SHOULD be a platoon guy. But given the facts that he currently is not a platoon guy calling him one is what I am talking about.

  6. phillyfanmatt - Feb 23, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    But I do appreciate the facts you posted thanks for sharing.

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