Updated 9:50 p.m.
The Phillies have placed first baseman Ryan Howard on the 15-day disabled list and recalled Darin Ruf from Triple A Lehigh Valley.
Howard, who has been playing with a cartilage problem in his left knee since mid-May, was scratched from Saturday night’s lineup after feeling pain in the knee during warm-ups. It was the 10th time in the last 45 games that Howard did not start. He was placed on the DL about an hour before the first pitch Saturday night.
“We’ve said before that if it got debilitating we’d shut him down,” GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “The discomfort just got to a point where he couldn’t perform, so we want to get him off his feet and get it taken care of.”
Amaro indicated that Howard tweaked the knee running to first base in Friday night’s game. Howard belted a 439-foot home run earlier in the game.
Howard had an MRI on the knee on May 19. He will have another one either Sunday or Monday, Amaro said.
Cartilage injuries are typically remedied with surgery. The Phillies won’t know what the treatment will be for Howard until he has the MRI.
“If he needs surgery, we’ll take care of it,” Amaro said. “If he doesn’t, we’ll rehab him and try to get him back.”
Howard, 33, is in the second year of a five-year, $125 million contract. He missed the first half of last season recovering from a torn left Achilles tendon.
Howard recently admitted that his knee was causing him pain every day, but he wanted to try to play through the problem. He was hitting .266 with 11 homers and 43 RBIs in 80 games. His 43 RBIs were second on thec lub to Domonic Brown’s 60.
“This is a big blow to us,” Amaro said.
The Phillies are looking to make a quick rise in the standings as they try to dissuade management from selling off players at the trade deadline. Even in a down year, Howard will be missed.
“The other guys will have to step up,” Amaro said.
One of those guys is Ruf. He was hitting .266 with seven homers and 46 RBIs in 82 games at Triple A. A first baseman by trade, he had been playing mostly left field. He played in 19 games at first and will see time at that position while Howard mends.
“We’d like to see him play,” Amaro said. “We think he can be a nice addition to our club.”
Ruf, 26, was a 20th-round pick in the 2009 draft out of Creighton University. He blasted his way into prospect status last season when he hit .317 with 38 homers and 104 RBIs in 139 games at Double A Reading. He finished the season in the majors and hit three more homers for the big club then hit 10 more homers during a stint in the Venezuelan winter league.
Ruf was en route to Philadelphia and was expected to arrive sometime during Saturday night’s game. Laynce Nix started at first base in place of Howard and was relieved by Ruf in the eighth inning.