Philadelphia Phillies 1B Ryan Howard's Achilles Injury Has Team Holding Its Breath

on October 12 2011 9:06 PM
Philadelphia Phillies 1B Ryan Howard
Philadelphia Phillies 1B Ryan Howard ruptured his left Achilles tendon on the final play of Philadelphia's season-ending loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLDS Friday night. He may miss the start of next season as a result of his injury. Reuters

Philadelphia Philles slugger and all-star first baseman Ryan Howard could miss the start of next season after the Phillies' slugger had surgery Wednesday to repair his torn Achilles tendon injury.

Howard ruptured his left Achilles tendon on the final play of Philadelphia's season-ending loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLDS Friday night, falling as he ran out of the batter's box on his groundout.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told the Philadelphia Daily News that he doesn't expect Howard to need a full nine months to recover from his injury. The recovery time after surgery from a torn Achilles tendon generally lasts six to nine months. When soccer star David Beckham tore his Achilles tendon on March 14 last year, he was sidelined until Sept. 11.

It's going to be five to six months from the surgery until he can play at his accustomed level, Amaro said. A lot depends on how he recovers. The start of the season could be impacted, but I still hope he makes his first at-bat.

Howard will be immobilized for one to two weeks and could possibly put weight on his leg in one month, which is a good sign for a quicker recovery.

The voluntary reporting date for position players is in late February, and the Phillies open at Pittsburgh to play the Pirates on April 5, two days shy of six months after Howard was hurt.

Howard, the 2006 NL MVP, batted .253 with a team-high 33 homers and 116 RBIs this season to help Philadelphia win its fifth straight NL East title. The Phillies set a club record with 102 wins.

Howard was 2 for 19 (.105) with a homer and six RBIs in the NL playoffs against the Cardinals. The slugger went 0 for 4 in the series finale as Chris Carpenter pitched St. Louis to a 1-0 victory, finishing off a stunning upset of the Phillies.

Howard is the power surge for the Phillies that all other hitters plug into to generate the offense. If the Phillies want to get off to a good, run-scoring start next season, Hunter Pence, Chase Utley and Raul Ibanez must provide everything Howard cannot.

To paint a picture on just how important Howard is and has been, consider this. Since becoming a full-time player in 2006, he has more home runs (262) and RBIs (796) than any other player in baseball. Only Albert Pujols has been intentionally walked more than Howard in that time, but Howard also has more strikeouts during that span than any other player (1,094).

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