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Ryan Howard To Visit Team Doctor, Could Hit the DL

CHICAGO - JULY 16: Ryan Howard #6 of the Philadelphia Phillies waits to bat against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 16, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Phillies 4-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Bob CunninghamSenior Analyst IAugust 3, 2010

When it rains in Philadelphia these days, you can bet it's going to pour.

With the Phillies' No. 3 hitter, Chase Utley, already on the DL for who knows how long, the Phillies' No. 4 hitter, Ryan Howard, could be joining him very shortly after spraining his ankle Sunday against the Nationals.

Howard and the team originally said a trip to the DL likely wouldn't be necessary, but with Howard staying in Philadelphia to see a team doctor rather than traveling to Florida with his teammates to start a series with the Marlins, the optimism is starting to die down.

And to be quite frank, thinking Howard wouldn't hit the DL was most likely wishful thinking to begin with.

Almost everyone has sprained their ankle at one time or another, and it's never a quick recovery. It usually takes a few weeks for the swelling to go down completely and for the pain to subside.

It's also an injury that can linger if not properly healed before it's put through any kind of activity again.

So, with that in mind, it might be in Howard's, and the team's, best interest if he does hit the 15-day DL and allow his ankle to heal before the season really gets down to the wire.

If they hurry him back, his production will dip as he deals with the pain all season long. But if they find a way to tough it out and ride the storm while he misses a couple weeks and comes back at 100 percent, it could have a greater payoff at the end of the season.

It would certainly require some lineup juggling, but the Phils have become accustomed to that this season.

Charlie Manuel has a tough call to make, but barring some miracle, I would expect to see Howard hit the DL at some point later today after the doctor tells him that's the best route to take.

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