The Philadelphia Phillies offense, which has been red-hot of late, took another blow Wednesday when it was revealed that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. doesn't expect slugging first baseman Ryan Howard to return in June.
According to a report by SportingNews.com, Amaro said the following when asked about if he would return by June:
I don’t believe so. I don’t think so...Ryan has improved every day and he continues to improve. The goal is to get him as close to 100 percent as possible. But we can’t control the timing.
When asked about the All-Star break, which is in the second week of July, Amaro said he is hopeful. If Howard returns by that time, he will miss approximately half the season.
This means that the Phillies will have to continue to use a committee at first base, made up of guys like Ty Wigginton (.263 AVG, .346 OBP, .409 SLG), John Mayberry Jr. (.244 AVG, .282 OBP, .350 LSG), and call-up Hector Luna (.350 AVG, .381 OBP, .550 SLG).
If Wigginton and Luna hadn't been hitting well of late, this news would have been worse. Even so, not having one of your best players for another month or so isn't exactly what this last-place—even if it's only by three games and they're 27-25—team needed.
The timetables for other injuries—which are piling up—are more clear for this team: Roy Halladay will be back a week after the All-Star Break, Vance Worley is expected back soon, and Carlos Ruiz seems better already thanks to yesterday's two-run home run.
The only question mark aside from Howard seems to be second basemen Chase Utley, who's degenerative knee issues aren't making things easy for the long-time Phillie.
While things as a whole don't look pretty, the Phils need to look at it in perspective: They are two games above .500, and no team in the NL East has the depth or all-around talent to run away with the crown. Philly just needs to keep grinding it out until the stars return.