Phils slugger Ryan Howard writhes in pain after injurying his foot on the last out of the NLDS. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
There isn’t much positive when looking at the possibility that the Phillies could be starting their season without their slugging first baseman.
But some positive news about Ryan Howard’s torn Achilles today has lifted the spirits of general manager Ruben Amaro.
According to Todd Zolecki, Amaro received news from foot and ankle specialist Mark Myerson clearing Howard to begin some strength and power exercises. Myerson examined Howard yesterday and said the 32-year-old hitter is progressing nicely.
Myerson told Amaro that Howard will start jogging underwater, and is likely to begin baseball activities in six weeks. Those baseball activities will start with ground balls, with hitting being a later step in Howard’s rehab.
Opening Day is still ruled out at the moment because it’s a wait-and-see situation for Howard.
“I can’t even speculate,” Amaro told MLB.com. “All I know is that it’s nice to know that at some point in Spring Training that he’ll start doing some light baseball activities. I think it is good news.”
If Howard isn’t ready to go at Opening Day, which is still the accepted notion, expect off season signings Ty Wigginton and Jim Thome to share most of the work load at first base before Howard is ready to return.
OTHER INJURY NEWS — Phillies reliever Jose Contreras, who had surgery to repair his right (throwing) elbow last year, was cleared to begin a throwing program today.
Contreras missed much of last season with elbow problems. At age 40, that could cause a bit of concern for the Phillies but they are deep enough in Major League ready bull pen talent that adding a healthy Contreras is a bonus.
Amaro doesn’t have a timetable at all for Contreras but he’s doubtful he’ll be needing to add another bull pen arm due to the team’s surplus.
“If there’s somebody that falls in our lap, yeah,” Amaro said. “But it’s a good enough report (for Contreras) that we think he’s going to be ready. If not at Opening Day then hopefully close to it.”
And lastly reported by Zolecki:
Placido Polanco (sports hernia surgery) told Amaro recently he feels great and believes he will be ready to go 100 percent by Spring Training. Hunter Pence (sports hernia surgery) also is expected to be ready for Spring Training. Cole Hamels (surgery to remove loose bodies in left elbow) is throwing and feels fine.
“A very, very positive update as far as our walking wounded are concerned,” Amaro said.