The boot is off and the Big Piece is free.
A cheery Ryan Howard spoke to reporters today, cracking a few jokes. It’s a bright and sunshiny like atmosphere in Clearwater despite the dark cloud of injuries that has loomed the past week.
“This new invention called a left shoe. It’s nice,” Howard joked.
Howard is going to look at that walking boot every day and use it as a reminder of how far he needs to go to get back to being one of the best hitting first basemen in baseball.
“I’m going to keep it for a while,” Howard said of the walking boot, which he keeps in front of his locker. “Maybe burn it.”
Howard was cleared to take the boot off today, throwing on a pair of sneakers and walking about freely for the first time in over a week — or ages to the slugger.
Howard took groundballs today while sitting on a stool to keep his glove hand and hand-eye coordination sharp as well as keep tension off that surgically repaired right Achilles that has been the main cause for concern all spring.
There is no timetable for Howard’s return, a different approach than last month when the Phillies said they were hopeful to lose Howard for only a couple of months.
“I’m trying to make little miniature goals,” Howard said. “The first goal is to get out of the boot. Goal achieved.”
Howard doesn’t think the infection in the wound was really a setback, since it never really affected the repaired tendon.
“I mean, I don’t think it really set me back,” Howard said. “Because I think the biggest concern was my tendon and the tendon was never an issue. The tendon was repaired in October. So even with me not doing what I was doing before from a rehab standpoint, the tendon is still getting stronger, a little bit every day.”
Full Q&A with Howard on the DelCo Times’ site.