Posted on: February 22, 2012 3:45 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 8:31 pm
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies star Ryan Howard fields grounders occasionally here at Phillies camp, and today he took batting practice at Bright House Field. Afterward, he was all smiles. His spirits were obviously high, but he made no predictions about when he'd be able to play in games.
"I feel good about where I am right now ... I guess I'm right where I'm supposed to be,'' is how Howard characterized things at a press conference to talk about all things related to the dramatic finish to his season and his lengthy recovery (it's at four months and counting) from his surgery to repair his torn left Achilles suffered on the season's final at-bat.
Howard said he felt very good while hitting and saw no reason for any dropoff in productivity once he's back on the field for real. In fact, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel actually predicted Howard's best years were ahead of him. The shift has surely taken a bite of his batting average which has been in decline, but there is no reason to think the Achilles injury will affect him longer than the time it takes to heal.
The hope is that he's in the Phillies lineup by sometime in May, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro said. "He's got a lot of strength to gain. We're going to be very cautious with it,'' Amaro said.
Howard said he's heard he's not going to be at full strength until the All-Star break. He didn't say whether he heard that from one of the Phillies doctors or one of the many lay people who chatted him up at the grocery store and other spots this winter. Howard referred to the injury as "a blessing in disguise'' because it gave him time to think. It was quite a disguise, as intense pain on top of making the final out of the season is no highlight. He said he saw the replay once. No reason to view it more than that.
Referring to making the final out two years running (although last year it was more hobbling than running), Howard joked that this could be his year to come through. "I'm about due,'' he said.
He may be a giddy to be here after all the inactivity. He said his winter consisted a lot of "housewives'' shows, the result of being immobile and unable to wrest the clicker away from his fiancee.
So understandably, just being in camp is a welcome step for him.