It's probably the biggest cliche in a sports world that's a neverending stockpile of cliches: I'm taking it day-to-day.
But that's about all Ryan Howard could say about a left knee injury that kept him out of the lineup for two games, required an MRI on Monday and has bothered him off and on since spring training.
Howard said he was OK to play on Tuesday night at Marlins Park, and thus, he's in the starting lineup. But Howard doesn't know how it will affect him in the short term, or in the long term. So unlike the injuries of Roy Halladay (shoulder surgery, out for a few months at a minimum) and Carlos Ruiz (hamstring strain, out 3-4 weeks) there remains uncertainty over the prognosis of Howard's knee.
Howard spoke with reporters prior to taking pregame batting practice on Tuesday afternoon.
Q: So the knee responded well to Sunday's cortisone shot?
Howard: I feel like right now it has. But you take it one day… that's why they call it day by day. Today I'm playing, so we'll see how it feels. It feels alright right now.
Q: Are you worried about long-term prognosis because there is some kind of tear in there. That could be concerning, right?
Howard: I guess if I blow up, then I'd be worried about that then. (Reporter interjects: That sounds grim). Nah, I mean, right now it feels pretty good. As far as all of that, I'm sure we'll continue to keep an eye on it. Once we either get back to philly or… we'll continue to keep an eye on it over the course of this road trip and dela with it accordingly. Right now it feels pretty good.
Q: Could it be related to coming back from the Achilles' injury, possibly a overcompensation thing?
Howard: You know what, I don't know. I'm not a doctor, I just play first base. But there could be a chance that it is all related. You know the knee bone is connected to the hip bone, or however the song goes. ... But I guess the body is all connected. I don't know.
Q: Does it feel better now than before camp started, or better than in a long time?
Howard: Right now it feels better. I don't really feel anything. But once I get out and move around, go through the course of the game, than I'll be able to tell better. But the (shot) so far has helped and worked and taken a little bit of the inflammation out.
Q: On a scale of 1-10, what's the pain been in first 6 weeks of season?
Howard: A lot of times it was off and on. But Saturday it was the worse that I had felt it because… it was something I could tolerate (before). But Saturday, even in warm-ups before the game, I let them know my knee was kind of bothering me. That was the worst. But it's hard to put a number on it because it was off and on.
Q: Is there one specific thing that makes it hurt, pushing off in the batter's box?
Howard: I think at times the pounding of the running. But obviously you can make out of it what you make out of it with it being my back leg and stuff. I mean obviously with it being the back leg, you're trying to pivot and all that kind of stuff. I don't know. I don't like to try to make excuses. I like to try to go out there everyday and compete to the best of my ability with whatever it is I got to go out there with. We'll continue to just see how it feels and, for the long term, continue to keep an eye out.
Q: Back to the Achilles'. Could this be a result of process of regaining that leg strength?
Howard: I don't know. I think that's where I'm trying to build up strength. In your foot, your Achilles, your calf and basically want to build the muscles back up in the entire leg. That's what rehab is for. I think it's just a continual process, you know? It's a tough injury to come back from because you get a lot of blood circulation back there to heal it but I feel my leg can still continually stronger. If that makes sense.
Q: Do you think about the next three years of contract and think 'Man, I hope I don't have to deal with this the whole time?
Howard: Yeah, that would suck. But I think too that's where you take the time to get a full diagnosis and see...OK, this is a situation with my left leg, I want to make sure that my elbows, my knees, my shoulders..all that stuff. That's just me personally. Either take time in the offseason or whatever to take a look and..are we cool? What's going on over here [points to left leg], is that gonna have an effect with this leg [points to right leg]. This shoulder. All that stuff is connected.
Q: Could this be something that requires a scope?
Howard: That I don't know. I would guess that would obviously be worst-case scenario. But I mean, right now I think it's too early to tell.