Howard sits out with left knee inflammation
Phillies slugger undergoes MRI; club hopeful he can avoid DL stint
MIAMI -- Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard missed much of last season following surgery to repair a ruptured left Achilles.
He then had a cortisone injection in his left knee Sunday in Philadelphia because of inflammation and changes in his meniscus. He was unavailable to play Monday against the Marlins, but the Phillies said he is day to day. They are hopeful he can avoid a trip to the disabled list. They also hope this is not the beginning of a trend of leg injuries for the $125 million first baseman, who has $85 million remaining on his contract following this season.
"Injuries are a part of the game," assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said Monday at Marlins Park. "That comes with the territory when you sign these guys. We have a bunch of pitchers on long-term contracts, too. It's just a risk you take. You never know what's going to happen. Chase [Utley] signed a seven-year deal and we lost out."
Howard had an MRI exam Monday morning in Philadelphia before joining the club in Miami. Phillies head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan said Howard had symptoms in his knee for a couple of weeks, but it was manageable. Recently, however, Howard told Sheridan the knee bothered him more.
Could the Achilles injury he suffered in Game 5 of the 2011 National League Division Series be related to the knee injury? It is common for pitchers to develop elbow issues because of shoulder and back issues. As a pitcher's mechanics get out of whack, it causes stress on other parts of the body.
"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 … to me, the closed chain of the ankle relate to the knee, relate to the hip. They all play a part. So that's a reasonable question. Whether that's what's happened, we don't know."
Sheridan said the goal is to get Howard healthy and move on, although that remains to be seen.
"We're going to do the treatment that we did and see how he responds to it," Sheridan said. "And then we'll have to make decisions from there as to what needs to be done beyond that."
The changes in the meniscus essentially mean a tear and inflammation.
"When you look at the meniscus, there's a little piece of it that we're concerned about," Sheridan said. "There's certain tests that make it look like he has a meniscus tear, and that's not as clear cut. If you did an MRI on all of it and you find these changes in the meniscus, the question is -- is that what's really causing the symptoms?"
Howard is hitting .245 with six home runs and 22 RBIs in 41 games this season. He has a .713 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, which is the lowest mark of his career. His OPS has declined each season since 2009.
Asked if Howard's build -- he is listed at 6-foot-4, 242 pounds -- could cause him continued leg problems, Sheridan said, "It doesn't matter whether you're big or small, if something in the joints is creating a problem for you, you've got to take care of it no matter whether it's Freddy Galvis or Ryan Howard. Mechanically, that's what we're worried about. Is that truly going to hinder him from getting back?"
Sheridan also said players have played with this issue in the past, which is why he is hopeful Howard can do the same.
"I would bet there are a ton of guys who've had tears in their meniscus, on this team or on others," he said. "It's part of wear and tear and playing 162 games and whatever else. Lots of wear and tear in this game. These guys, it's their legs. Pitchers, it's the shoulder."
Ruiz headed to DL with strained right hamstring
MIAMI -- The Phillies will place catcher Carlos Ruiz on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a Grade 2 strained right hamstring.
He is expected to be sidelined three to four weeks, based on the size and location of the tear.
The Phillies selected catcher Humberto Quintero's contract from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The club placed right-hander Mike Adams on the DL with a strained back to make room for Quintero. Right-hander Tyler Cloyd will take Ruiz's spot on the roster Tuesday and start against the Marlins.
Ruiz injured the hamstring running the bases in the second inning of Sunday's 3-2 victory over the Reds at Citizens Bank Park. He had hit .235 (12-for-51) with two doubles and two RBIs in 16 games after missing the first 25 games for using a banned stimulant. He hit .325 (10-for-31) in his previous 10 games.
Phillies catchers have a .582 on-base-plus-slugging percentage this season, which ranks 27th in the Majors. They were counting on Ruiz to boost that position, but he lasted less than a month.
"We were comfortable with the [catching] situation we had to start the season," Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. "Q did a good job for us. I think we're comfortable with what we have. We're not going to stop looking, but I don't think we're actively out there pursuing anything. But you keep your eyes and ears open."
Adams placed on 15-day DL with strained back
MIAMI -- The Phillies placed right-handed reliever Mike Adams on the disabled list Monday because of a strained back.
The move is retroactive to May 11, meaning Adams can be activated as early as Sunday. But because he has not pitched since May 10, he will need to get his arm back in shape. He said he plans to throw Thursday and Saturday in Clearwater, Fla., and if everything goes well, he said he hopes to be activated before Monday's series opener against the Red Sox in Boston.
"Everything is feeling good," he said. "The pain subsided. It's been a week. I need to get into throwing shape."
Right-hander Justin De Fratus could see more time in the late innings while Adams is out. He has thrown 2 1/3 scoreless innings in four appearances, pitching in some big spots along the way.
"I trust him," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
• Triple-A Lehigh Valley right-hander Adam Morgan had been scheduled to pitch Tuesday, but the Phillies said he has been scratched because of a shoulder issue. The club offered no further details. Morgan is considered one of the organization's top prospects, but is 1-4 with a 4.97 ERA in eight starts. He allowed 10 runs in 3 1/3 innings in his last start.
• Before Sunday's victory over the Reds, the Phillies had not hit back-to-back homers capped by a walk-off homer since Sept. 15, 1922, against the Cardinals at Baker Bowl. Butch Henline and Cliff Lee -- no, not that Cliff Lee -- went deep to win it.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.