09/19/11 1:26 AM ET
Howard will have cortisone shot in left ankle
By Mike Radano / Special to MLB.com
Howard, who is nursing bursitis in his left ankle, fouled a ball off the big toe of his right foot on Saturday. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said that Howard will likely have a cortisone shot in the injured ankle on Monday.
"I think that should really help him some for the rest of the season and stuff," Manuel said. "That kind of looks like what we are going to do. After talking to him, I felt it was better to keep him from playing. If you notice, some days he runs better than others.
"I talked to him today because I wanted to play him, because the Cardinals are still playing for something, the Braves are still playing for something and [Cole] Hamels is pitching.
Howard is possibly the biggest beneficiary of the Phillies' dominance this year; they clinched the East in a franchise-best 150 games. If all goes as planned, Howard could be back in the lineup on Thursday, which means he'll miss Tuesday's day-night doubleheader against Washington.
"Just talked to the doctors and he's got some bursitis," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "So it's something I think we should treat. We'll find out more tomorrow, but I think he's going to get a shot.
"I'm not sure what they're going to shoot him with, but probably something like cortisone. And he's going to do it into the bursa sac there. That's what my understanding is. It's just gotta calm down. It's been bothering him. So we're going to try to calm it down."
Howard said he wanted to be in the lineup, but he was focused on getting healthy for the postseason.
"Distraught, completely distraught," Howard joked. "The goal is to be out there and be able to play, but the focus is towards October and being healthy for October."
Phils have areas to shore up prior to postseason
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has plenty of work to do over the next 10 days as his club prepares for the playoffs.
For starters, the Phillies have a magic number of two to clinch home-field advantage throughout the postseason. But the club also has some questions to answer up before going to the postseason.
The main areas of concern are the bullpen and a starting lineup that has struggled over the past week and has scored three or fewer runs in nine of 10 games following a 5-0 loss to the Cardinals.
"I think we have time to get our bullpen right," said Manuel, who has seen youngsters Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo struggle over the past three weeks. "We need Bastardo to get a couple of good innings. A little bit concerned about Stutes, but at the same time, Bastardo is a lefty, and we are definitely going to need a lefty."
As for the lineup, the biggest concern is Chase Utley who has struggled for over a month, which has included a week of inactivity after he was hit in the head by a pitch.
"I think he was starting to find his swing and driving the ball right before he got hit in the head," Manuel said. "Now, it's like he's starting back over again. He needs some playing time and some reps."
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. wants to see how recent callups like Joe Savery and Justin De Fratus handle the next ten days.
"I think they're going to get opportunities to play," Amaro said. "I'd like to see some guys get opportunities to play a little bit and see how they respond. To see No. 1 how they respond for 2012, but No. 2, see how they respond and how they may fit in the postseason."
Don't expect the Phillies to ease off the pedal too much, especially against teams with playoff aspirations.
"When we were trying to be a Wild Card, I used to check box scores," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I saw some games on West Coast, and the closers they were using, and I laughed. I thought it was a joke because they weren't giving us a chance. It's respect for the game. Not only for the Cardinals and Braves but for the game."
Cole Hamels on Sunday missed a chance at win No. 15. If he had gotten it, the Phillies would have three starters with 15 wins and ERAs under 3.00 -- Roy Halladay (18-5, 2.34), Cliff Lee (16-7, 2.38) and Hamels (2.80).
According to ESPN, the last time a club had three pitchers in their rotation with at least 15 wins, all of whom had ERAs under 3.00 was 1972, when both the A's and Orioles did it.
Mike Radano is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.