Does Ryan Howard heading north during spring training mean the injured slugger’s season could be headed south?
Howard left spring training in Clearwater this weekend to meet with foot and ankle specialist Dr. Mark Myerson in Baltimore Monday.
Normally a player leaving sunny Florida for colder temperatures in the north isn’t a good sign so it’s understandable that speculation began that Howard suffered a setback in his recovery from Achilles surgery.
Add in Phillies manager Charlie Manuel calling Howard’s situation as a “minor setback” and worries become bigger.
But, Phillies trainer Scott Sheridan downplayed Howard’s trip north as somewhat routine and not a sign that the Big Piece’s recovery suffered any major setback rather just a minor event.
“He has an open wound that isn’t healing the way we want it to,” Sheridan, the team’s head athletic trainer, said Sunday at Phillies camp. “It needs to be evaluated.”
Phillies officials have insisted that the condition is not serious and Howard was due for a checkup by surgeon Mark Myerson anyway. Myerson repaired Howard’s ruptured Achilles tendon 4 1/2 months ago.
“We wanted Ryan to go back and see Mark,” Sheridan said. “This is a little adjunct to the scheduled appointment, something else to be seen.”
It was probably a stretch to see Howard contributing at any point before mid-May after he hurt himself on the last out of the Phillies five-game NLDS loss to the Cardinals. But, after watching Howard on the practice field last week, there were a lot of good feelings in Phillies land that Howard was closer to being back in action than first thought.
It’s looking like this is a wait and see situation. Is the Achilles healing right? Will he be dealing with this injury all season and never really be 100 percent? And -- worst case scenario -- is it possible the Phillies will be forced to shut him down before he ever begins 2012?
Not so fast on the doomsday scenarios.
"Ryan has been doing great," Sheridan told Philly.com. "He has been out on the field and has been doing the things we expected him to be doing at this point. Hopefully, we can keep it going in the right direction."
The Phillies are saying this is a just a skin issue now rather than an Achilles issue but we fans might not really know what is going on until Howard meets Myerson. So for now let’s let things play out and just hope for the best.