The news is as bad as feared for Ryan Howard. An MRI taken on Saturday confirmed the worst – Howard has a ruptured Achilles tendon.
The injury was suffered as he grounded out to end Game 5 of the NLDS, a soul-crushing defeat by the Cardinals that destroyed the Phillies and fans hopes for another World Series title.
Surgery will be scheduled once the swelling goes down. When an NFL player ruptures an Achilles, it takes around a year to get back to full speed. Since Howard doesn’t play football and is a power-hitting first baseman, he should be able to return sooner than that.
Still, recovery will likely take around six months at best. That puts him back on the field not long after the season starts — at best. But that also means he’ll miss all of spring training. He will then need to get back in playing shape not to mention get his timing back. So add maybe a month.
And after all that, there’s no guarantee he will be at full strength. He may technically be healed enough to play, but if his ankle isn’t as strong as it was he will be robbed of power. And Ryan Howard without power isn’t Ryan Howard. It’s more likely he won’t be anywhere close to full strength until midseason — hopefully. And that’s assuming everything goes well with surgery, rehab, and recovery.
It could be an ugly spring for the Phillies offense. Losing Howard from the clean up spot is the absolute worst case scenario for the lineup. There’s no one else who inspires the same fear in opposing teams like Howard, and it’s very, very (very) unlikely the Phillies will be willing or able to sign or trade for a comparable bat. Albert Pujols will not be playing in red pinstripes, unfortunately.
It’s a good thing they will still have a bunch of aces to help get them through.
INJURY REPORT UDPATES
The Phillies have released information on other injuries of note as the team moves on to an earlier-than-expected offseason:
— Cole Hamels will have surgery on his left elbow to remove “loose bodies”. It’s scheduled for October 14. He also has an inguinal hernia, which will be operated on a week after his elbow. Neither procedure should cause much worry. Hamels will be entering his free agent year so he will look to be in top form in his quest to get paid.
— Hunter Pence has a sports hernia that will be require surgery. He will have an MRI soon to assess the damage. He will be fine.
— Placido Polanco will finally have hernia surgery himself. It was clear he was far from healthy down the stretch. We said before he should have just had the surgery when it happened and it’s obvious watching how he performed that this would have been the right move.
— Ross Gload will see a specialist about his hip, which bothered him most of the season and sapped away pretty much any power he may have had. He’s almost certain to have surgery.
Man, this loss still stings pretty much as bad as it did Friday night. And it’s going to hurt for a long ass time. Damn.
The countdown to Spring Training 2012 has begun.