Frandsen tore his four springs ago while running the bases. He was going to start at second or third base for the San Francisco Giants. He had some minor tendinitis in the week before but was cleared by doctors to play. Then, at age 25, he was facing major surgery.
"It was as tedious a process as I've been around," Frandsen said.
Frandsen tore it March 24, 2008. He returned to play Sept. 28 in the Giants' final game that season. He was not 100 percent healthy.
"No chance," he said. "I don't think you're 100 percent for at least a year or year and a half, where you feel like you're doing everything you've done in the past. It took quite a long time. And I was early on everything; ahead of schedule with no setbacks. When I played, everyone was like, 'Oh, you must be 100 percent.' No. It's still a process. The whole thing, you have to continue it."
The Phillies have targeted May as a loose timetable for Howard's return. Howard didn't want to affix such a date to his recovery. That may be semantics, but the overriding question is, what sort of player will Howard be upon his return?
Frandsen said he's spoken to Howard about what he'll encounter. While Howard participated in batting practice for the first time Wednesday, it's far from being a major milestone.
The weirdest feeling, Frandsen said, will be when Howard busts it out of the batter's box for the first few times in a game.
"It's really screwed up," Frandsen said. "It doesn't feel normal. It doesn't hurt. It just feels really weird."
But when Frandsen sees Howard, he believes in the process.
"Just watching him walk around, it's awesome," Frandsen said. "I think he's in a good spot where he's at, just by going off the look. I've been in that position."
Praise for Diekman
During Thursday's bullpen sessions, pitching coach Rich Dubee took specific interest in Jake Diekman, a 25-year-old side-arming lefthander.
"You've got to love Diekman's arm," Dubee said. "He's got a tremendous high ceiling."
The area for improvement, like any young arm, is his secondary pitch. For Diekman, that's a slider.
Last season at double-A Reading, Diekman held lefthanders to a 0.99 batting average in 91 at-bats. He did walk 17 against 40 strikeouts, and control will be another focal point.
But Dubee envisions more than a lefty specialist role as a possibility for Diekman. He said Diekman's fastball is better than Antonio Bastardo's, but he lacks a quality breaking pitch like Bastardo.
"He's a little tougher from where his arm slot is, but he's got some thunder, too," Dubee said. "That's a nice combination."
Righthander Justin De Fratus remained sidelined with elbow soreness. . . . Cliff Lee did not throw a bullpen session as scheduled. Dubee said Lee is healthy. "He's just stepping back a little bit," Dubee said. "He's pretty much where he needs to be. He's stepping back. He's got extra time before he gets into the game."
Contact staff writer Matt Gelb
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