Tag:Ryan Howard
Posted on: February 29, 2012 11:12 am
Edited on: February 29, 2012 11:17 am

Howard treated for infection

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies won't say Ryan Howard had a "setback."

They will say that they're not sure when he'll be able to resume workouts.

However they phrase it, it can't be great news that Howard's surgically repaired Achilles tendon became infected.

Howard, who ruptured his Achilles tendon on the Phillies' final play of the 2011 playoffs, had a procedure done Monday to clean out the wound. Howard was then placed on antibiotics. The procedure was significant enough that Phillies athletic trainer Scott Sheridan said, "It'll be like a new wound."

The good news, Sheridan said, is that once doctors went in and looked, they found that the repaired Achilles tendon is "intact and not compromised."

Howard had been able to take batting practice and some other limited drills. He's not yet far enough in his rehabilitation for the Phillies to set a timeframe for his return, one of the reasons they can avoid talking about setbacks.

"I don't prefer to use that word," Sheridan said.

So will this keep him out of baseball activity for days, or weeks?

"I truly don't know," Sheridan said.

Howard, who went to Baltimore to see the doctor who operated on him, is expected back in Phillies camp this afternoon.
Category: MLB
Posted on: October 7, 2011 11:07 pm

Cardinals head to NLCS -- and not the Phillies

PHILADELPHIA -- The Cardinals were a deserving playoff team, and now they're a deserving second-round playoff team.

But what the heck happened to the Phillies?

Chris Carpenter was great. This Cardinals team is talented and tough.

But what happened to the Phillies?

Sorry, but for the second straight night, we had a Game 5 that was just as much about the losers as it was about the winners. And if Thursday was a "terrible day" for the Yankees, Friday was much, much worse for the Phillies.

They won more games than anyone. They have more aces than anyone. They sell out every night. They "know how to win."

And they just lost in the first round.

This isn't to take anything at all away from the Cardinals. Their all-Central Division NLCS with the Brewers should be loads of fun, with two teams with tons of history and plenty of animosity.

But what happened to the Phillies?

Sorry to keep coming back to it, but this team was a bigger lock than the Yankees or Red Sox ever were. This team has five straight division titles, and had been in three straight Championship Series.

This team had Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt.

This team is done. And the Cardinals aren't.

The Cardinals were pronounced done themselves, prematurely as it turned out, when they were 10 1/2 games back in the wild-card race in the waning days of August.

But they started winning, and didn't stop. And the Braves stopped winning.

They still had to play the Phillies, and in the fourth inning last Sunday night, they were down one game to none in the series and 4-0 to Cliff Lee in Game 2.

Ryan Howard, who drove in the first two runs that night, didn't get another hit in the series, and made the final disappointing out of the season for the second straight year. At times, it felt like the Phillies as a team never got another hit, with the exception of the Ben Francisco pinch-hit home run that won Game 3.

Carpenter was brilliant in Friday's Game 5. The Cardinals got a run against Halladay early on, with a Rafael Furcal triple and then a Skip Schumaker double.

The Cardinals had a great night, and a great series.

But what happened to the Phillies?
Posted on: May 26, 2011 2:26 am
Edited on: May 26, 2011 2:27 am

The best (19th inning) pitcher in the game

PHILADELPHIA -- Roy Halladay didn't no-hit the Reds.

Wilson Valdez did.

Roy Halladay didn't make this game memorable. Wilson Valdez did.

No one will ever forget the night Halladay no-hit the Reds in the playoffs. And no one will ever forget the night (early morning?) that Valdez no-hit the Reds in the 19th inning.

I know this much: The next time Halladay pitches against the Reds at Citizens Bank Park, I'm there. And you should be, too.

The first time he faced them, Reds starter Travis Wood took a perfect game to the ninth inning. The next time he faced them, Halladay made like Don Larsen.

And Wednesday night -- early Thursday morning -- Valdez made like . . . Roy Halladay?

Well, sort of.

Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball. He has 175 career wins, and a 3.29 career ERA.

Valdez is a utility infielder, who last pitched in some town game in the Dominican Republic, nine years ago. And he now has a 1-0 career record, and a 0.00 career ERA.

He got Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Carlos Fisher in the top of the 19th, and Raul Ibanez's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 19th made the Phillies -- and Valdez -- a 5-4 winner in one of the craziest games you'll ever see.

And Wilson Valdez was absolutely the star.

"He's wanted to pitch for a while," said Dane Sardinha, who caught him. "Now I'm sure he'll want to even more. But I'd hang it up right now if I were him. Perfect record."

Valdez was having none of that.

"Anytime they need me," he said.

And why not? He threw one pitch at 90 mph, most of the others at 88-89.

"That's better than some guys," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

Manuel hates the idea of using a position player to pitch. He said he'd never done it. But he ran out of pitchers, Danys Baez had already thrown 73 pitches (easily the most he'd thrown since he became a reliever eight years ago), and Manuel decided it would be too risky to use one of his other starting pitchers.

So Valdez it was, in the 19th inning, at 1 o'clock in the morning.

At first base, Ryan Howard told Reds coach Billy Hatcher, "If he throws anything like he throws it [across the infield] to me, he'll be nasty out there, because he throws sinkers."

Behind the plate, Sardinha put down one finger for a fastball, over and over. Valdez tried to shake him off ("I thought, what is he about to throw," Howard said), but Sardinha put down one finger again.

Votto flied out to center field, but then Valdez called his catcher to the mound. Actually, two catchers, because Carlos Ruiz was playing third base, and he joined the conversation, as well.

"He told me he wanted to throw his other pitches," a disbelieving Sardinha said. "Then he hit [Scott] Rolen with a slider."

In the stands, where a surprising number of fans remained, the crowd got as loud as it had in hours.

"Let's go Wilson!" they chanted. "Wil-son! Wil-son!"

Sardinha -- and Valdez -- went back to the fastball to get Bruce and Fisher, the final Reds pitcher, who threw 95 pitches in 5 2/3 innings and was in the game long enough to get two at-bats.

Then the Phillies scored, and the game was over, just 6 hours, 11 minutes after it began.

"It was a grind," Howard said. "But we got a new spark of life when Wilson went out there."

Valdez was the happiest Phillie around, even happier when a reporter told him he was clocked at 90 mph.

He admitted that he went to the mound with no pressure ("I just thought, throw a strike, because if [Votto] hits a home run, they're not going to say anything. He's a tough hitter.").

He said he was ready to keep pitching if the Phillies didn't score in the bottom of the 19th.

"I could go three more, four more, whatever," he said. "This is something I'm never going to forget."

I'm with him on that. And if you saw it, I'm guessing you are, too.


Two more memorable lines from a memorable night:

Sardinha, on whether Valdez had good stuff: "I told him he did, but it was [just] all right. He had a good sinker, and that was it."

Baez, on his 16th-inning at-bat, when he struck out: "I put on the wrong helmet. I put on a helmet to hit left-handed, and I thought, 'There's something wrong.' And I forgot to put pine tar on the bat."

Manuel, on Valdez: "I put him in against the heart of the order, [to] see what he's got. I think he passed the test."

Posted on: May 16, 2011 9:46 pm
Edited on: May 16, 2011 10:08 pm

The Gaby Sanchez All-Star campaign

NEW YORK -- Joey Votto is the reigning MVP.

Albert Pujols is the best player in the game. Ryan Howard leads the league in RBI.

And Logan Morrison is trying to get Gaby Sanchez elected as the National League's All-Star first baseman.

I guess you can't blame a guy for trying. But you realize, Logan, this isn't going to be easy.

"I'm trying to get the awareness out there," the Marlins left fielder said Monday.

Morrison began his campaign over the weekend on Twitter, at @LoMoMarlins. He plans to continue it daily there, and vowed to take the campaign to the MLB network, and wherever else he can.

"I've got 25,000 [Twitter] followers, and if they all vote 25 times . . . " Morrison said.

If they all vote 25 times, it's still not going to be enough.

"It can't hurt, right?" Morrison said.

And what does Sanchez think of all this?

"He's politically correct," Morrison said. "He says he doesn't care, and just wants the team to win."

For the record, Sanchez is off to a fine start. He's a fine player, and if you didn't read colleague Scott Miller's column about him in spring training, it's still worth reading now.

And, as Morrison helpfully pointed out, Pujols is off to an uncharacteristic slow start. Votto and Howard aren't, but Pujols is.

Anyway, if you want to vote for Sanchez, go right ahead. It would certainly please Logan Morrison.

Just don't expect him to win.

Not at first base. Not in the National League.

Posted on: April 20, 2011 1:24 pm
Edited on: April 20, 2011 1:36 pm

Is this the year the Phils trade for a hitter?

For five straight years, the Phillies have traded for a starting pitcher at midseason.

Is this the July they deal for a hitter?

That depends.

If the last eight games represent what the Phillies really are offensively -- just 23 runs and a .540 team OPS, with only 10 extra-base hits -- then maybe they do. Even before the Phillies lost the first two games of this week's series with the Brewers, manager Charlie Manuel was bemoaning his team's lack of power.

As Manuel pointed out, Ryan Howard is the only true home run threat in the lineup right now. As one scout following the Phillies said, "The left fielder [Raul Ibanez] isn't the same guy, and right now the shortstop [Jimmy Rollins] isn't the same guy."

So they need help? Again, that depends.

It depends on whether Chase Utley can come back -- it seems now that he will, although Phillies people say Utley's condition seems to vary by the day -- and more than that it depends on whether Utley can hit as he did pre-injury.

"Utley's hit 33 home runs before," Manuel said. "He hits 25-30 home runs [in a regular year]."

That would be huge, because as Manuel said, "We've got some guys who hit 10-15 home runs. I don't know if we have anyone [besides Howard] who hits 25-30."

There are other ways to win, and despite their lack of power, the Phillies went into Wednesday's afternoon game against the Brewers with the second-best record in the National League, at 10-6.

The rotation of aces has pitched pretty much as expected, and will almost certainly keep the Phillies in contention -- at the very least -- until they figure out their offense.

"I think the Dodgers [of the 1960s] used to prove you can win with pitching and defense," Manuel said. "But Maury Wills stole 85 bases a year."

Jimmy Rollins used to steal 40-plus bases for the Phillies. But there are questions about whether Rollins can be that player anymore and, in any case, Manuel now has Rollins batting third, where he has fewer base-stealing opportunities.

Does he need help? Do the Phillies need help?

We'll see.

Posted on: April 18, 2011 6:35 pm

Utley is running, and getting "antsy"

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies still won't even guess at when Chase Utley will return.

But at least it does feel like he will be back.

Part of the reason is that there's finally some visible progress. After two months where Utley mostly took batting practice and fielded ground balls while sitting on a stool, he has started running.

And, apparently, he's tired of not being able to play.

"I can tell he's definitely getting antsy," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said Monday.

Imagine how he'd feel if the Phillies were the team that started off 2-10.

Instead, the Phils entered play Monday with a 10-4 record, good for first place in the National League East and second-best in the National League behind the Rockies. While Utley is, as usual, driven to come back, at least he doesn't feel that he needs to return fast to save his team.

Last year, Utley sped up the process of his rehab, and some in the Phillies organization believed he went too fast. The team is determined not to allow him to do it again, and those who know Utley say that he knows that now, too.

But there's no doubt that the more the Phillies win, the easier it will be to keep Utley on a schedule that the medical people recommend.

"I think that's good," Manuel said. "I know how much value he puts on the team winning."

There's no doubt that the Phillies miss Utley's bat. Wilson Valdez has filled in admirably at second base, but without Utley, and with Raul Ibanez and Jimmy Rollins off to slow power starts, the Phils don't have much home-run power in their lineup, aside from Ryan Howard.

Through 14 games, the Phillies have hit just 11 home runs, ranking 11th in the NL. Howard has three, but Rollins has yet to hit one (and has just one RBI), and Ibanez has only one homer.

Posted on: August 13, 2010 6:09 pm
Edited on: August 13, 2010 6:14 pm

Utley, Howard could return early next week

NEW YORK -- The Phillies may finally be getting healthy.

Chase Utley and Ryan Howard could both be back next week, which would allow the Phillies to field their full opening day lineup for the first time since May 21. While the Phillies haven't set a date for the return of either of their stars, there seems to be at least an outside chance that both could return during a home series with the Giants that starts Tuesday night.

Utley left Friday for Florida, where he'll continue to work his way back from a torn ligament in his right thumb. Utley got a good report from the doctor this week, and before leaving he told some teammates that he intends to return to the lineup Tuesday. The Phillies originally projected that it would take eight weeks for Utley to return. As of Monday, he will have been out seven weeks.

Howard, out with a sprained ankle, hasn't played since Aug. 1. He has remained with the team, and took batting practice and ground balls before the Phillies' game with the Mets Friday night. Howard is eligible to come off the disabled list Tuesday, and while it's not certain he'll be back that day, he shouldn't need much longer than that.

With Utley and Howard coming back, the Phillies could be healthier down the stretch than the Braves, who lost Chipper Jones to a season-ending knee injury.

"It's a loss," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said, when asked about Jones. "But I picked [Braves utility man Omar] Infante for the All-Star Game, didn't I? We'll see how smart I am."

Posted on: April 26, 2010 3:15 pm
Edited on: April 26, 2010 6:32 pm

Phillies sign Howard to 5-year extension

The Phillies have Roy Halladay signed through 2013. They have Chase Utley signed through 2013.

And now they have Ryan Howard signed through 2016, after finalizing a five-year, $125 million contract extension today.

If you're going to start a baseball team, that's a pretty good place to start. They have the best starting pitcher in the game, a second baseman who is one of the four or five best overall players in the game, and a first baseman/cleanup hitter whose power matches up with anyone's.


Well, since the start of the 2006 season, Howard has 201 home runs. No one else in baseball has hit as many. No one else is really close.

Albert Pujols is second -- 29 home runs behind Howard.

Is Howard as good as Pujols? No, but that's not the point.

Put him together with Halladay and Utley, and you have the makings of a championship contender for years to come. Add in Jimmy Rollins, who for now is signed through 2011, and Shane Victorino and Carlos Ruiz and the rest of the Phillies, and you have a team that has been to the World Series the last two years, winning it once, and has done everything to make sure this group has more chances to get there -- and win -- in the future.

In the Phillies camp report this spring, the Phillies talked about that plan, and pitcher Cole Hamels said the Phillies wanted "to become that dynasty team that we could be destined to be."

Even at that point, the Phillies had every significant player but one (right fielder Jayson Werth) signed at least through the end of next season. But at that point, there was still a very real question of how long past that this group could stay together.

Howard was the biggest part of that question. His contract history with the Phillies wasn't smooth. After Howard won the Rookie of the Year Award in 2005, the Phillies renewed his contract for $355,000. Howard was the National League's Most Valuable Player in 2006, but the Phillies renewed him again for $900,000 that winter.

Howard took the Phillies to arbitration after the 2007 season, winning a $10 million contract for 2008. His current three-year, $54 million deal, signed in February 2009, bought out arbitration years, but not any free-agent years.

Until now, he hadn't committed to stay in Philadelphia any longer than baseball rules would have kept him there.

Now he's signed through 2016, with a 2017 option that could bring the total value of the deal to $138 million.

Howard was already making $19 million this year, and he was already signed for $20 million for 2011. The new contract keeps him at $20 million for two more years (he'll make $25 million for the three seasons after that), so it doesn't put a great strain on the Phillies' budget, or greatly affect their ability to keep the rest of the team together.

In any case, the Phillies are perfectly comfortable building their future around Halladay, Utley, Howard and Rollins. They like the group they have assembled around those four -- they gave three-year contracts to Victorino, Ruiz, Placido Polanco and Joe Blanton over the winter -- but the key has always been to keep those four. As good a player as Werth has become, the Phillies believe that if they can't get him signed, they can find a way to replace him.

Howard would have been much harder to replace. He has hit 45 or more home runs each of the last four seasons, with at least 136 RBIs each year, and power hitters like that just aren't available.

The Phillies like what they have. They want to keep this group together.

Signing Howard is another huge step towards making it happen.
Category: MLB
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