Ryan Howard to DL; Darin Ruf Called Up


June 30, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard (6) during the eighth inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

So, I guess that Ryan Howard trade market is going to thin out a bit, huh?

Just days after Ruben Amaro called out Howard and said the hulking first baseman needed to step up his game and justify his contract (paraphrasing here), the Phillies announced on Saturday that Howard was being placed on the 15-day disabled list because of an ailing right knee.

Darin Ruf was recalled from AAA Lehigh Valley to take his place on the roster.

Howard initially responded well to Amaro’s challenge, hitting a mammoth home run off Atlanta starter Paul Maholm, a left-hander, on Friday night. But Howard appeared to aggravate his right knee while running out a ball to first base later in the game, landing him on the DL.

And while Howard certainly can’t control his injuries and/or bad luck, this is yet another indication that the Howard deal is a mess from which the team seems unable to recover.

"“We’ve said before that if it got debilitating we’d shut him down,” GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “The discomfort just got to a point where he couldn’t perform, so we want to get him off his feet and get it taken care of.” – quotes per CSNPhilly’s Jim Salisbury"

Howard will get an MRI on his knee on either Sunday or Monday, said the team. Until they get those results, they won’t know the extent of the injury and whether or not Howard needs surgery that could sideline him for a long time.

However, perhaps this is exactly what Howard and the Phillies needed. Perhaps surgery can repair the damage and help Ryan come back strong in 2014, because the 2013 version of Howard is, frankly, not one that is of great help to the team.

Howard, in the second year of that much-talked about five-year, $125 million deal, was hitting .266 with 11 HRs and 43 RBIs in 80 games heading into Saturday. That puts him on pace for about 22 HRs by year’s end.

Those are clearly not the kind of power numbers you want to see from your $20 million a year cleanup hitter.

Hopefully, surgery would allow Howard to regain some of the strength in his lower half that he lost, strength which has obviously sapped him of some of the power that made him such a feared hitter for so long.

The ballad of Ryan Howard continues.

The Phils will likely turn to the man who took the Eastern League by storm last year, Darin Ruf, in Howard’s absence. Ruf has played mostly left field for Lehigh Valley, but his traditional position is first base.

In 82 games for the Iron Pigs, Ruf was hitting .266 with 7 HRs and 46 RBIs, one year after bashing a Reading record 38 HRs while hitting .317 last year.

Kevin Frandsen and Laynce Nix could also seem time at first base in Howard’s absence.