Ryan Howard out 6-8 weeks with torn meniscus

Ryan Howard out 6-8 weeks with torn meniscus

July 8, 2013, 4:45 pm
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Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is headed for surgery and will miss up to eight weeks.

An MRI performed Monday on the slugger’s ailing left knee revealed a torn medial meniscus. A date has not been set for the surgery, but it is expected to happen in the coming days. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Howard would be out six to eight weeks. Rookie Darin Ruf is expected to get significant playing time at first base while Howard is out.

Amaro compared Howard’s injury to the one suffered by catcher Erik Kratz last month. From Howard’s perspective, that might not be the worst thing. Kratz had surgery on June 12 and was able to begin a minor-league rehab assignment on Monday night, less than a month after the surgery. If all continues to go well for Kratz, he could be back in the majors in under five weeks. The Phillies hope Howard can follow a similar path.

“We said six to eight weeks on Erik and he moved pretty quickly,” Amaro said. “Hopefully we will have the same sort of time frame. But everyone’s knee is different.”

Howard started receiving treatment for a sore left knee in early May. An MRI performed on May 19 revealed some fraying in the meniscus. Monday’s MRI showed a more pronounced tear.

“We have to take care of this,” Amaro said.

If Howard heals well, he could be back for the stretch drive in late August or early September. The question is: Will the Phillies be playing for anything then? They entered Monday night’s game against Washington 7 1/2 games back in the NL East and management is pondering whether to keep the team together for a possible second-half run or trading off veteran talent and focusing on the future.

Howard, 33, was hitting .266 with 11 homers and 43 RBIs in 80 games before going on the disabled list before Saturday’s game.

Howard is in the second year of the five-year, $125 million contract. He has missed time both seasons with injury. He was out half of the 2012 season recovering from a torn left Achilles tendon.

Last month, Howard admitted that his left knee was causing him pain every day and he implied that it was affecting his hitting.

Even in a year when Howard was struggling to produce consistently, his loss is a blow to the Phillies.

“Our lineup looks different without Howard,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “His presence means something. He’s still a threat. We need him. At the same time, we have to keep playing.”