Phillies send Howard home for more tests
The slugger will have his sprained left ankle examined by the team's doctor on Tuesday.
Ryan Howard's sprained left ankle is serious enough to warrant a return to Philadelphia, where he will be examined by the team's doctor. The Phillies slugger flew from Miami to Philadelphia on Monday night.
Howard left Nationals Park on crutches Sunday after hurting his ankle in the first inning of the Phillies' 6-4 win. He flew with the team to Florida, where the Phils had an off day Monday before beginning a three-game series with the Marlins on Tuesday night. Howard won't be around for the start.
The first baseman will have his ankle examined Tuesday by Michael Ciccotti, the Phillies' team physician. After Sunday's game ended, manager Charlie Manuel said Howard would not need to go on the disabled list and could miss a few days. X-rays taken Sunday were negative, indicating no fractures.
But the sprain, if serious enough, could keep Howard out.
"I'm hoping not," Howard said when asked Sunday whether a stint on the DL was possible. "I guess once the swelling goes down, we'll see what happens. It's kind of a bad sprain. I just rolled it pretty bad. Nothing broke, so that's good. Hopefully, maybe it'll just be a couple days, get the swelling down and it'll be all right."
If Howard goes on the disabled list, he would become the 15th Phillie to do so. Jayson Werth is the lone Phillies regular who has yet to miss time with an injury.
Howard has been one of the league's more durable players. His only stay on the DL came in 2007 because of a strained left quadriceps. Howard played in all 162 games in 2008. He played in 160 in 2009. On Sunday he said that he had never had a sprained ankle.
Without Howard at first, the Phillies have a few options, but none that can equal the slugger's production. Howard leads the National League with 81 RBIs and is hitting .292, which would be his highest batting average in a season since 2006 when he hit .313.
Ross Gload's natural position is first base and he would likely be Howard's replacement. Against lefthanded pitchers, Cody Ransom could see some time.
In the minors, journeyman Andy Tracy is hitting .280 with 14 home runs and 54 RBIs for triple-A Lehigh Valley. Matt Rizzotti is hitting .362 with 16 home runs and 60 RBIs in just 73 games for double-A Reading. But the 24-year-old began the season at single-A Clearwater.
Needless to say, the Phillies are crossing their fingers that Howard gets good news at his examination on Tuesday.