10/08/11 9:46 PM ET
MRI confirms Howard has ruptured Achilles
First baseman may not be ready for Spring Training
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
Howard collapsed to the ground after making the final out in Game 5 of the NLDS on Friday at Citizens Bank Park. An MRI exam Saturday confirmed he ruptured his left Achilles tendon. The Phillies said Howard cannot have surgery until the swelling resolves, and recovery time will not be known until after the surgery.
But the Phillies also said, "There is no guarantee he will be ready for Spring Training."
It is speculation, but it would not be a surprise to see Howard miss the first couple months of the 2012 season.
Right fielder Hunter Pence and third baseman Placido Polanco will have MRIs to evaluate the extent of their sports hernias. Polanco is expected to have surgery, while Pence's plan will be determined following the MRI. Polanco had battled through the sports hernia much of the season, while Pence never indicated publicly it had been an issue.
Left-hander Cole Hamels will have loose bodies removed from his left elbow next Friday. He also has an inguinal hernia. Surgery for that is scheduled one week following the elbow surgery. Hamels went on the disabled list in August because of stiffness in his left shoulder, but he never spoke publicly of any elbow problems.
First baseman Ross Gload, who will be a free agent, will have his right hip re-examined by hip specialist Bryan Kelly. Gload is expected to have arthroscopic surgery.
If Howard misses the beginning of the season, John Mayberry Jr. seems to be the logical choice to take his place at first base. Mayberry played 18 games at first base this season. If Polanco misses the beginning of the season, the Phillies could open the season with Wilson Valdez and Michael Martinez sharing time, although the Phillies might try to go outside the organization for an upgrade.
Pence and Hamels are expected to be ready for the beginning of the season.
Gload is not expected to return.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.