"We're hopeful he'll be back in 2 weeks," Amaro said. "It may be longer than that. We're not sure. It depends on how quickly he can heal."
The move does not come as a surprise to anybody who saw Howard's ankle buckle when he stepped on second base after scrambling back to beat a throw in the Phillies' 6-4 win over the Nationals Sunday in Washington. Even Manuel, who after the game said a DL stint was unlikely and that he was holding out hope that Howard wouldn't miss any time at all, realized he had misjudged the severity of the injury after watching a replay on television.
"I'd definitely say it's a little more serious than I thought it was the other day," Manuel said. "Once I saw it on TV - I didn't realize how it hit. His ankle came under him and all of his weight was on it then. Evidently, we got back to the hotel and it started swelling up more and, according to the trainer, it puffed up pretty good."
Howard traveled with the team to Florida, but returned to Philadelphia yesterday morning for a visit with team doctor Michael Ciccotti. The exam revealed damage to the tendons on the lateral (outside) of the ankle, which is the most common type of sprain, but no damage to the medial (inner) side.
Howard declined to comment to reporters outside the Rothman Institute following his exam.
"It could have been much worse," Amaro said.
With Shane Victorino (left oblique strain) sidelined until at least Aug. 12, and Chase Utley (right thumb surgery) still at least 3 weeks away, the Phillies are missing a trio of players who have combined to drive in or score 59.8 percent of their runs this season, going into last night's game against the Marlins. Howard alone has produced 25 percent of the team's offense, the fourth-highest ratio in the National League (the Mets' David Wright leads the way with 25.9 percent).
Veteran utility player Cody Ransom, a righthanded hitter who was called up from Triple A Lehigh Valley after Utley sprained his thumb in mid-July, started at first base for just the sixth time in his career last night. Lefty Ross Gload figures to garner the bulk of the playing time, though: 253 of his 333 career starts are at first base, where he carries a sparkling .995 fielding percentage.
Leftfielder Raul Ibanez, who along with Jayson Werth is one of two Phillies regulars who haven't spent time on the DL this season, played first base early in his career, but Manuel said he didn't foresee him as an option.
To fill Howard's roster spot, the Phillies called up John Mayberry Jr., who hit .211 with four home runs in 57 at-bats for them last season and was hitting .258 with 12 home runs and a .731 OPS in 425 at-bats at Triple A Lehigh Valley. Mayberry has spent the majority of his professional career in the outfield, but played first base at Stanford and could be used there on occasion.
Raul Ibanez looked surprised that the status of his wrist had aroused enough curiosity for reporters to ask about it.
"It's fine," said the veteran leftfielder, who was scratched from the lineup Sunday with what the team called a sore left wrist.
Ibanez, who landed awkwardly on the wrist while attempting to make a diving catch in a loss to the Nationals Saturday night, said he never had any doubt that he would play today.
That's good news for the Phillies: Ibanez entered last night hitting .352 with four home runs, 15 RBI and 18 runs scored in his previous 24 games.
Ben Francisco started in rightfield in place of rookie Domonic Brown, who entered the night with one hit and three strikeouts in his last 10 at-bats. The move didn't come as a surprise. Charlie Manuel has said repeatedly that he will monitor the top prospect's workload, particularly against lefthanded starters like the Marlins' Sean West, who faced the Phillies last night. Since getting called up on July 28, the 22-year-old Brown has started four of the Phils' six games, although he only made the lineup against Nationals lefty John Lannan on Sunday after Raul Ibanez was scratched with a sore wrist.
"Like I said, I think you've kind of got to monitor him a little bit until you can turn him loose," said Manuel, who previously estimated that Brown would start between 60 and 70 percent of the games. "That's how I want to do it."
Brown, who hit .327 with a .980 OPS and 20 home runs in 93 games at Double A and Triple A, entered last night 5-for-18 with three RBI, three runs, and one extra-base hit (a double).
For more Phillies coverage and opinion, read David Murphy's blog, High Cheese, at http://go.philly.com/highcheese. Follow him on Twitter at