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Ryan Howard Faces Setback; Sidelined Indefinitely

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You could almost feel a Ryan Howard setback coming due to all of the positive vibes escaping the Philadelphia Phillies spring training facility.  Initial Phillies estimates were pointing at a May return for the slugger, but yesterday Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Enquirer reported that Howard will be sidelined indefinitely following a procedure to clean an infection in his original wound.  It’s unknown at this point if Howard will be forced to miss days or weeks.

The procedure was termed “small” by Phillies head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan.  A foot specialist had to remove stitches from the infected wound that resulted from Howard’s October surgery on his left Achilles.  While the structure of the rebuilt Achilles remains intact, the area around the wound had become infected.

This is apparently a normal result of such a procedure, as the area that required surgery is a difficult place for a wound to heal.  For this reason Sheridan wasn’t ready to call the small operation a setback, but instead something that happens when you are dealing with a ruptured Achilles.

Though the Phillies have tried to establish a target date for Howard’s potential return, Sheridan indicated that he has never had such a timeframe.  For the time being, Howard and the training staff will have to focus on getting his new wound healed before he can resume rehabbing his Achilles.

While it remains unknown exactly how much time Howard will be required to miss this season, it’s been apparent from the start that the slugger wouldn’t be ready to go Opening Day.  The Phillies have indicated that they plan on going with offseason acquisition Ty Wigginton as their primary first baseman during Howard’s absence.  Philadelphia has also said that veteran slugger Jim Thome could see time at first base, but likely only a few starts per month.

Philadelphia should be able to shoulder the loss of Howard early on, especially considering how easy their schedule is over the first month of the season.  Five of Philadelphia’s first seven series are against teams that maintained sub-.500 records in 2011.

For more on the Phillies, be sure to check out That Balls Outta Here.

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