RYAN HOWARD did not take pregame batting practice with his teammates yesterday, and there is at least a possibility he'll be shut down for the season after he made a late-night trip to the emergency room after Monday's game.

Howard was diagnosed with a bruised left knee Monday after he took a short-hop throw from Freddy Galvis off his leg in the seventh inning. He was removed from the game an inning later.

After Howard left the ballpark and returned home, however, the condition of his knee worsened.

"He had to go to the emergency room to get his knee drained, so that doesn't look good," manager Pete Mackanin said. "But we're just going to go day to day to see what happens."

Since it is the same knee Howard had surgery on two years ago, there is obviously every reason to proceed with caution. Since only 2 1/2 weeks remain in the season, the Phillies are well out of any race and are attempting to audition younger players, it almost seems sensible to shut down Howard.

Many noncontending teams regularly shut down veteran players with injuries in the season's final weeks.

"It's a possibility," Mackanin said. "Day to day could be eight days from now, so I don't know for sure. We just don't want to commit [if], three or four days from now, he says he feels fine. The thing with Howie that's admirable is this guy wants to play. You've seem him over the years, he posts up every day, he's ready to play every day. That's a nice trait to have. So we'll wait and see."

Darin Ruf started in Howard's place against Washington last night. According to the Phillies media relations department, Howard was not scheduled to have an MRI or X-ray on his knee.

Howard left the ballpark Monday night using crutches to walk. Mackanin said Howard was still using them yesterday in an effort to keep weight off his left leg.

"He's here today and he was smiling, he looks OK," Mackanin said. "We're just going to have to take it day to day and see."

Just as Cesar Hernandez' season-ending thumb surgery opened the door to the Phillies getting a look at newcomer Darnell Sweeney at second base, Ruf could benefit if Howard is sidelined for the remainder of 2015.

Ruf has started only 46 games this year and has been used primarily against lefthanded pitchers; entering last night, he was hitting .369/.427/.595 in 96 plate appearances against lefthanders this season. Ruf hasn't had an opportunity to play regularly since the second half of the 2013 season, when he hit .247 with 14 home runs and an .806 OPS in 73 games, while Howard was sidelined following knee surgery.

"If we can get a ton of at-bats for Ruf until the end of the year, it'll help us make a decision, at least me, to see him play instead of sporadically play five or six games in a row or something like that," Mackanin said. "Because it's difficult when you don't face righthanders very often. You're not the same hitter as if you faced them all the time."


Aaron Altherr was out of the lineup with a bruised right forearm. He was hit with a Jonathan Papelbon pitch Monday. Altherr was sore and stiff, but expects to be back in the lineup before the week ends . . . Aaron Nola is tentatively scheduled to start Tuesday in Miami, but could be shut down for the season following that game. Nola, in his first season as a pro, has pitched 175 innings between the minor and major leagues. The Phillies' front office has said it planned to keep him in the range of 180 to 190 innings this year . . . Ryan Howard was announced this week as the Phillies' nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, given to the major league player who "represents the game through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement." Former teammate Jimmy Rollins was a co-winner of the award last season. The 2015 winner will be announced next month.

Blog: ph.ly/HighCheese