MLB: Will Ryan Howard's Ankle Hinder the Philadelphia Phillies Going Forward?

Shay GravesContributor IIISeptember 19, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 15: Ryan Howard #6 and Michael Martinez #19 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrate after beating the Florida Marlins 2-1 in extra innings on a double by Howard and run by Martinez at Citizens Bank Park on September 15, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Phillies were without their biggest bat in Ryan Howard, just one day removed from capturing their fifth consecutive National League East Division title.

The three-time All-Star has been battling bursitis in his left ankle for the last few weeks, as matters only became more complicated Saturday. 

Howard fouled a ball off the big toe on his right foot in the division clincher, which seemed to be the final straw. He was already dealing with bursitis in his left ankle, which is a painful condition that affects the bursae sacs—that acts as cushions between bones and tendons in a particular body part. When those sacs become inflamed, the result is bursitis.

The bad news is bursitis typically takes a few weeks to fully heel and treatment normally involves good old fashioned rest and shielding the area from sustaining any further damage. However, the good news is that Howard will have a cortisone injection Monday, which should help with nursing the ankle back to a healthier condition.

As of now, the Phillies are saying Thursday is the projected day for Howard's return to the lineup. 

In layman terms, it is unlikely Howard's ankle will ever be back to 100 percent for the remainder of the season. Howard has already been running with a noticeable limp and the time is now to get some relief if he has a chance to be healthy by the start of the National League Division Series, commencing October 1.

This could not come at a worst time, as the Phillies are priming for another postseason run. Many are well aware of the postseason struggles Howard endured last postseason, in the National League Championship Series against the San Francisco Giants. I know, he batted .318 but had 0 RBIs for an entire six-game stretch. For a perennial 30 home run, 100 RBI guy like Howard, that is unacceptable.   

With other Phillies like Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley dealing with health issues of their own, the Phillies need all the firepower and experience they can get if they plan on bringing a second World Series title to Philadelphia in four years.  

It is still too early to to tell if Howard will have long effects from his nagging ankle, but all Phillie fans can hope is that he continues to be a run-producing machine when he rejoins the team later in the week. 

Originally Published on Phillies 101