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Ryne Sandberg says Ryan Howard returning in September would be “counterproductive”

Aug 23, 2013, 11:19 AM EDT

Ryan Howard Getty Getty Images

It’s possible that Ryan Howard could return from July knee surgery to rejoin the Phillies lineup in September, but interim manager Ryne Sandberg told Jim Salisbury of that it would be “counterproductive” for the first baseman to do so.

Here’s more:

I don’t know what 10 or 15 games would do. He needs to get healthy and strong and in top baseball shape and whether or not that can happen by mid-September is a question. … He had a big injury and I don’t think he ever got into true baseball shape. He needs to get trimmed up to a playing weight that he can be productive at. Go ahead get him in baseball shape and be ready for first day of spring training ready to go.

It’s interesting that Sandberg is so focused on Howard’s status for 2014 considering the Phillies haven’t officially named him the manager for next season, although he’s certainly right that the focus of Howard’s recovery shouldn’t be some meaningless September games.

As for the repeated references to Howard getting into “baseball shape” … general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said recently that he’s dropped 15 pounds and Salisbury reports that he’s expected to spend at least part of the offseason “working with team conditioning personnel and hitting coaches” at the Phillies’ spring training complex in Florida.

Howard, who’ll be 34 years old in November, is signed for three more seasons at a total cost of $85 million.

  1. jarathen - Aug 23, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    Just like Pujols. Save him for next season where you stand a theoretical chance. No need to risk further injury now.

  2. jm91rs - Aug 23, 2013 at 11:33 AM

    He better get back into shape. He has a lot of subway sandwich money riding on his fitness.

    • ryanrockzzz - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:44 PM

      it’s only taken him 2 years to get close to “baseball shape” to.

  3. thomas844 - Aug 23, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    That’s the smartest thing to do. No point in rushing him back when they have no shot at the playoffs. If he and Utley are healthy next year and Brown keeps raking, Cliff Lee just might actually get some run support in 2014.

  4. dan1111 - Aug 23, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    I don’t think it’s at all presumptuous for Sandberg to be thinking of next season. A manager’s job, whether on a short or long contract, is to do what is in the best interests of the team. Clearly for the Phillies, that means preparing for next season should be emphasized over winning a few games now.

  5. mybrunoblog - Aug 23, 2013 at 1:22 PM

    I loved the way Sandberg said that Ryan “needs to get trimmed up”. Such a polite professional way of saying that Howard has become a fat ass and needs to drop 20 or 30 pounds. Of course Howard knows this and it’s good to see he’s dropped his first 15 lbs.

  6. delsj - Aug 23, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    Typical Ruben spin! He tells you that Howard lost 15 pounds, but neglects to tell you that he put on an extra 30 lbs before he lost the 15. Sandberg is only interim until the Charlie backlash dies down. Only question is will the Phillies let him bring back Larry Bowa as his bench coach.

    • riotpunch26 - Aug 23, 2013 at 4:07 PM

      Larry Bowa sucks

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