Aug 282010

Phillies 2B Chase Utley

August 27 Camden Courier-Post

Ryan Howard was expected to spend three days in the minors following his three-week stint on the disabled list with a sprained ankle. Instead, he played one game for Class A Lakewood.

Since returning to the Phillies, Howard is 3-for-24 with 12 strikeouts.

Chase Utley was supposed to miss at least eight weeks after surgery to repair a ligament in his thumb. He was back in less than seven, with a four-game workout in Clearwater as his rehab assignment.

Since returning to the Phillies, Utley is hitting just .235 with two extra-base hits.

So as the Phillies struggle to find any semblance of offense despite the return of two of their top hitters, Charlie Manuel is doing his best to defend his slumping sluggers.

“If we left them down there (in the minors) for a long time to get quite a few at-bats, they’d definitely benefit from it,” Manuel said. “But where we were at, we wanted them back when they got healthy.”

After Wednesday’s game, Howard compared his return to the lineup to the first few days of spring training, struggling to find his timing. He’s looked awful at times, including an 0-for-7 with five strikeouts Tuesday.

Howard isn’t blaming his problems on the injured ankle, but he admits it’s still not fully healed.

“There’s still a little bit of swelling, still a little bit of aches and pain, but when I’m out there I don’t really think about it,” Howard said. “I think the adrenaline kicks in.”

Utley’s admitting to even less.

When pressed on whether his injury was hampering his swing, Utley offered a blanket denial.

“We do whatever it takes that day to win,” he said. “There are no excuses here.”

Remember me?

As if a four-game sweep wasn’t enough pain for Philadelphia this week, it didn’t help that so many former Phillies were doing the damage.

Starting pitchers Brett Myers and J.A. Happ each won games in the series, outfielder Jason Michaels had a key hit that sparked a late Houston rally Monday and Michael Bourn terrorized his former team all week.”

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