Phillies Notes: Doctor visit for Phils' Howard, but is it a setback?

The Phillies' Jim Thome and Carlos Ruiz chat during spring training workouts at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla.
The Phillies' Jim Thome and Carlos Ruiz chat during spring training workouts at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla. (YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)
Posted: February 26, 2012

CLEARWATER, Fla. - The recovery process for Ryan Howard will not necessarily always follow a straight line. Such is the nature of a serious injury, like the ruptured Achilles tendon he continues to mend.

Whether he has suffered a setback depends on semantics, or who is doing the talking.

Howard will leave camp Sunday night to see Mark Myerson, the surgeon who repaired the tendon, in Baltimore. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. called it a "routine checkup," but Howard was seen with a large bandage on the back of his ankle Saturday morning.

Later in the day, manager Charlie Manuel said Howard suffered "a little setback" because of an infection where the surgical incision was made.

Then, Saturday night, Amaro wished to clarify the manager's comments. He said Howard had developed a seroma, a small cyst of fluid, near his wound. That, Amaro said, is not the reason for Howard's previously scheduled visit to the doctor.

"The reason to see the doctor was routine," Amaro said. "He might treat it. Ryan is doing fine. We don't view it as a setback."

Howard took batting practice Saturday with his teammates and launched a few bombs. But the team is being cautious, and that's why he'll head to Baltimore and skip possibly two days of workouts.

Manuel, while using the word setback, never implied the issue was serious.

"They'll be looking and testing him," Manuel said. "That's how I understand it. It was nothing they were really alarmed about."

Amaro said Howard has progressed.

"We thought it was a good idea for him to go back there," Amaro said. ". . . He's progressing pretty well, and it's a good idea for him to see [the doctor] before he continues forward with more activities."

Pineiro as depth?

When the Phillies signed righthander Joel Pineiro to a minor-league deal this winter, it was billed as a fine way to add starting rotation depth. But Pineiro, under stipulations from baseball's new collective bargaining agreement, can ask for his release if he's not added to the major-league roster by March 31.

Any player with more than six years of service time signed to a minor-league deal after his major-league contract expired has that right of refusal. Outfielder Juan Pierre also fits that category.

If Pineiro or Pierre chooses to accept a minor-league assignment, the Phillies must pay him a $100,000 retention bonus. And if they aren't in the majors by June, they can exercise an out clause.

Pineiro, 33, has started 104 major-league games in the last four seasons and hasn't spent time in the minors since 2001, excluding rehab appearances. Theoretically, Pineiro's best chance at a spot on the Phillies roster is via an injury to another pitcher.

He said he hasn't considered whether he'd go to triple A to wait for that chance.

"At the moment, I haven't even thought about that," he said. "I'm thinking the best thing is going to happen to me, whether it's here or with another ball club."

Pineiro's two-year, $16 million contract with the Angels expired after he posted a 5.13 ERA in 1452/3 innings in 2011.

"I'm trying to prove a lot of people wrong," he said.

Extra bases

The Phillies typically reward one of their younger starters in camp with the first start in an exhibition against Florida State University. This year, 25-year-old Austin Hyatt earns the nod. He'll start Wednesday's game after posting a 3.85 ERA in 28 starts at double-A Reading. . . . Jake Diekman, Jeremy Horst, Michael Schwimer, Joe Savery, J.C. Ramirez, B.J. Rosenberg, and Phillippe Aumont are scheduled to pitch after Hyatt.


 

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