Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Ryan Howard on Track for Spectacular Return to be Inevitably Ruined by Bullpen


Ryan Howard seems to have the “hard ground ball” portion of his rehab under control.  All that remains is the “thunderous home run” and basic “running” parts and we’ll have  starting infield that could actually intimidate someone in 2007.

No, it’s just great to see Ryan on the field again, whether he is starting at first base instead of Ty Wigginton or DH’ing for a minor league affiliate.  Reports indicated he wasn’t moving very fluidly, but he was, in fact, moving when he hit the ball, which is an improvement to his limitations the other week, when he was allowed to take a single step out of the batter’s box in Florida but nothing more.

The flattering powder blue uniform creates a striking a image on our boy.  First, you think of the past; a retro Phils uni, as if he’s stepping onto the diamond on some gloriously novel Sunday afternoon game.  Then, you think of the last time he wore these colors, when he was merely a young lad with a penchant for destroying baseball.  The Lakewood BlueClaws official website proudly displays a young Ryan donned in their deep blues, his face grim with determination, his eyes locked on a target.

“You hear about this Ryan Howard kid?” people would ask each in the streets. “They say he can hit a baseball 800 feet!  That his arms are made out of pure Missouri muscle!  That when he struts out for a BP session you can hear the balls squeal in terror!”

“Please stop elbowing me,” we’d reply.  “I’m just trying to get to work.”

Then, finally, you consider the future; what form of Ryan we’ll see in the coming weeks, what affect he’ll have on a struggling team, what kind of shape the core of this squad will take not only for the remainder of 2012, but 2014 or 2015 or my god how long do these contracts go on for.

And then, finally, you just think, “Hey, he went 2-for-4 with three RBI and s SAC fly in his first game.  That’s pretty neat.”  How three more RBI in either of our last two games could have made a lot of difference.  How Ryan gave the folks a little show by coming two feet short of a walk off grand slam.  How anxious he must be to get back and help after seeing Chase do his thing on Wednesday.

You sip your cold coffee.  You consider buying some tickets to what will be a sold out show tonight in Jersey.  And you try to work through the thoughts dawdling in the back of your head, the ones asking if this team will ever be the same again.

“One day at a time,” you think, because it’s the only thing you can let yourself think without bursting into tears.  Then you realize you’ve been standing in front of a board meeting for 20 minutes, wordlessly staring out the window as your eyes well up.

You clear your throat, understanding now why you saw that email on your co-workers’ computer calling you “…just a weird man, you know?” and begin the presentation.

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