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Injury impact: Ryan Howard injury will be a real pain for 2012 Phillies
It was just the adding injury to insult. The Philadelphia Phillies had been eliminated from the postseason and there was star first baseman Ryan Howard writhing in the dirt. The team's dreams of a 2011 World Series crown went up in smoke.
The question remains how it will affect the 2012 season.
Howard injured his left Achilles tendon while running out a grounder. It was the final out of Game 5 against the St. Louis Cardinals. While Howard was on the ground, the Cardinals celebrated moving on to the National League Championship Series. His teammates stood in the dugout stunned, watching the Cardinals whoop it up on the Phillies' home field, Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies won't know how long Howard will be out until after he has surgery and doctors can see just how severe the damage is. He can't have surgery until the swelling in his leg goes down. It will likely take place within the next two weeks.
The best case scenario would be Howard missing just spring training and the beginning of the regular season. The worst case would be him missing the entire 2012 campaign.
If the team believes he will miss the entire year, they will need to get a replacement, obviously. Howard is signed through 2016, so the Phillies have their hands tied a bit. There are some huge name first basemen on the free-agent market, Albert Pujols(notes) and Prince Fielder(notes) to name two, but neither is coming to Philadelphia as a one-year rental. If Nick Swisher(notes) of the New York Yankees doesn't have his option picked up, he might be an interesting fit.
Internally, the logical choice would seem to be John Mayberry(notes) Jr. In 267 at-bats, he hit 15 home runs with 49 runs batted in. He played 18 games at first base this season, starting in 10 of those. He is 27 years old and the time has come to see if he can be an everyday player or remain a solid bench contributor.
Either way, the team will miss Howard's power, but his replacement is sure to strike out less. One more thing I noticed about Howard's injury was none of his teammates were there to help him up. Instead, trainers and coaches helped the big guy back to the locker room. That might say more about the 2011 Phillies than anything else does.
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