Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. on Sunday defended his teams handling of Ryan Howards ankle injury last summer.
We always have our players best interests in mind, Amaro said during a short and hastily called address to reporters during Sundays game against Boston.
Amaro summoned reporters in response to a Philadelphia Inquirer article that wondered whether a cortisone injection used to treat bursitis in Howards left ankle in September might have contributed to the ruptured Achilles tendon he suffered on Oct. 7. Howard still has not returned to the Phillies lineup and is working out in Florida.
The Inquirer quoted medical personnel as saying the use of cortisone could compromise the strength of a tendon.
The newspaper tried to get comment from the Phillies during the reporting of the story, but the team declined to make team physician Mike Ciccotti available.
That left Amaro seeking out reporters and telling his teams side of the story Sunday. Amaro said he wanted to address the insinuation that Howard was not cared for properly.
Amaro said the cortisone injection used to treat Howards bursitis was overseen by specialists.
We didnt feel there was any issue, Amaro said. In fact, Dr. Ciccotti and I discussed this because we knew about some of the issues that surround using cortisone in that area, the Achilles. So we were very comfortable and just wanted to make sure that was clear.
Amaro went on to say the Achilles rupture occurred much farther away from the area that was treated for bursitis. The bursitis, Howard said last season, was closer to his heel. Amaro said that conversations with Mark Myerson, the Baltimore-based surgeon who repaired Howards Achilles in October, left him confident that the two issues were not related.
After talking to Dr. Myerson about it, the bursitis thing was already taken care of and was resolved by the time that Ryan sustained his injury, Amaro said. We dont feel, frankly, that one thing had to do with the other.
Amaro said he found it troublesome that there is an insinuation that the organization didnt have the best interest of the player in hand. Thats not true at all. Obviously, we have a tremendous investment in Ryan and to be frank with you, we are probably the most conservative team when it comes to cortisone shots. I will tell you, Ive been around a long time, Ive see a lot of medical reports over the years and (were) probably one of the most conservative clubs in baseball giving those types of shots. We certainly do have the players best interests in mind, short term and long term.
After stating the teams position to reporters, Amaro was asked why the organization did not comment in the Inquirer story, as it was invited to.
We were contacted except the nature of the contact was a little different than the actual story, Amaro said curtly. He then walked away from reporters.
Before leaving, Amaro addressed why the team has refused to let reporters watch Howards workouts at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla. That issue came to light in a separate Inquirer story Sunday as reporter Bob Brookover chronicled his being barred from the Phils Clearwater facility last week. Earlier, Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia had made a request to cover Howards workouts with a reporter and camera crew, but that request was denied by the Phillies.
We just feel uncomfortable with it, Amaro said. Wed rather be able to report those things. I just dont feel comfortable putting the player in that position right now. When its time for him to play in rehab games and hes functional, everyone will be able to see him play.
We give updates every day. That should be sufficient.
Were not trying to hide things, Amaro continued. Thats not our job. Our job is to have the best interest of the player in mind and we want to make sure he gets ready at his own pace. When you have people getting involved in a rehab such as this it can, in fact, affect the player. And when it comes to a guy like this, or any rehab, we want to make sure he gets back at the proper pace.
The Phils say they have no official timetable for Howards return. He is fielding, throwing, taking batting practice and making progress in his running. Mid-June seems to be a reasonable guess for his return.
E-mail Jim Salisbury at email@example.com