Updated: 7:32 p.m.
MIAMI – The Phillies are a banged-up bunch.
The team placed reliever Mike Adams (back strain) on the disabled list before Monday night’s game against Miami, and he will soon be joined by catcher Carlos Ruiz, who his headed to the DL for possibly as long as a month with a Grade 2 strain of his right hamstring.
Ryan Howard was unavailable for Monday night’s game after an MRI revealed some abnormalities in the meniscus in his left knee. Howard had a cortisone injection on Sunday. It generally takes a couple of days for an injection to work. Howard is considered day-to-day as team medical officials wait to see how his knee responds to the injection.
If that’s not enough, highly regarded pitching prospect Adam Morgan did not make his scheduled start at Triple A on Monday night because of what was termed “shoulder stiffness.” Morgan, who has struggled in recent outings, will be re-evaluated in a few days. His situation is not considered serious.
As for the big Phillies …
Adams had not pitched since May 10, two days before he suffered a back spasm while shagging fly balls during batting practice. He said Monday that he was feeling much better. Because his assignment to the DL was backdated, he will be eligible to be activated on Sunday. He will travel to Clearwater on Tuesday for rehab. He said he would throw off a mound Thursday and Saturday with the goal of being ready to go Monday in Boston.
“That’s the plan we set out,” he said. “Everything is feeling good. The pain has subsided. It’s been more than a week so I need to get into throwing shape.”
Catcher Humberto Quintero was added from Triple A to take Adams’ roster spot.
Ruiz will be officially placed on the DL on Tuesday. Pitcher Tyler Cloyd, Tuesday night’s starter, will take his roster spot. Erik Kratz and Quintero will handle the catching while Ruiz is out. That tandem handled the job while Ruiz served a 25-game suspension for testing positive for a banned stimulant at the start of the season.
Top catching prospect Tommy Joseph, hitting .209 in 21 games at Triple A, is not a consideration to come up. He hasn’t played since May 4 when he sustained a concussion after taking a foul ball off the mask.
“We’re comfortable with the situation we had to start the season,” assistant GM Scott Proefrock said of the team’s catching picture. “Your eyes are always open, but we’re not actively out there pursuing anything.”
Ruiz, 34, injured his hamstring running the bases in Sunday’s game against the Reds. This is the fifth straight season in which he has spent time on the DL. His health will be something team officials will have to consider as they decide whether to extend his contract beyond this season. He will be a free agent at season’s end.
Scott Sheridan, the Phillies’ head athletic trainer, said Ruiz has a Grade 2 strain in the lateral area of his hamstring. A Grade 2 injury means there has been some tearing in the hamstring.
Sheridan estimated that Ruiz would be out three to four weeks.
“That’s what we’re thinking right now based on the size of the tear and the location,” Sheridan said.
Sheridan said Howard had some recent inflammation in his left knee.
“We’ll treat him day to day right now,” Sheridan said. “And we’ll see how he progresses, see if this injection helps and go from there.”
On Sunday, Howard said he felt some discomfort in the knee as far back as spring training. Sheridan said the team only recently became aware of Howard’s issue. He said there was no one event that triggered Howard’s problem.
“He’s had some symptoms for a couple weeks, really nothing that was too bad,” Sheridan said. “But then a couple of days ago he told us, you know, this is starting to bark a little too much. He wanted to see what’s going on. We’ve been treating him for a few days and felt like we needed to do a scan to see what exactly what was going on.”
Howard, of course, missed half of the 2012 season recovering from a torn Achilles tendon on the same leg. In 2010, he missed time after spraining the ankle in the same leg.
Could his current problem be the result of an altered running gait after those injuries?
“That’s the million-dollar question right there,” Sheridan said. “For me, it’s like the old song: The foot bone is connected to the knee bone. They all play a part. So that’s a reasonable question. Whether that’s what’s happened, we don’t know.”
According to Sheridan, there are many players throughout baseball and pro sports who play through minor cartilage problems in their knees. The Phillies hope Howard will be able to play through this once the swelling goes down.
“The goal is to make him better and be done with it,” Sheridan said. “But I don’t know if that’s going to happen. We’re going to do the treatment that we did and see how he responds to it. And then we’ll have to make decisions from there as to what needs to be done beyond that.”
Howard, 33, is in the second year of a five-year, $125 million contract. A contract of that size always comes with risks and health is one of them.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” Proefrock said. “Injuries are part of the game. That comes with the territory when you sign these guys. We have a bunch of pitchers on long-term contracts, too. It’s just the risk you take.”
Michael Young started at first base in place of Howard on Monday night. Freddy Galvis started at third.
If it turns out that Howard has to miss an extended amount of time, the Phils could look to bring up Darin Ruf, who continues to get some reps at first base at Triple A. Ruf has mostly played left field at Triple A.