Phillies Nation

2012 Spring Training

Howard Swings in Cages; Feels “40 Percent Healthy”

(Photo: Ryan Lawrence, Delco Times)

Ryan Howard joked during his press conference in Clearwater today that he’d done a lot of searching. For the remote.

Knowing that his surgically-repaired achillies would keep him on the couch, his fiancee, Eagles cheerleader Krystle Campbell, made him watch “Housewives” shows, as he put it. Unable to put up a fight, Howard actually took a liking to the reality TV programs that I make fun of my own girlfriend for watching. But I digress.

Howard said his time off was a good way to refresh his mind and body. With that, he’ll have a lot of recovery to do as he diagnosed himself at about 40 percent healthy currently, according to Comcast SportsNet’s Michael Barkann.

While taking random trips to the grocery store, Howard says he encountered many people who had the same injury. He’d even compare scars with those in the produce section.

From the way he spoke on Wednesday afternoon, he’s prepared for a long battle back, but does say he’s getting there. During morning BP, Howard took live swings for the first time since the injury. That mammoth strength was still apparent, as many reports said he hit a few balls out of the park at Bright House Field.

One thing Howard would not do is put a time on a return to the Phillies lineup. His manager, Charlie Manuel, believes he’ll be back before May, which is just about two months from today. Howard did say he didn’t think he’d be playing in any Spring Training games, so the team will continue to take a cautiously-aggressive approach with the Big Piece.

And that’s fine. There’s no need to rush him back. Sure, the division is stronger and teams are gunning to unseat the incumbent champions of the NL East. That’s no reason to push Howard past his limits. The Phillies know that, Howard knows that. Howard understands his full power might not be back until around the All-Star break in July. If he’s 100% for the second half of the season, look out.

I’m also interested to see how the fans will react to Ryan Howard once he returns. Will they give him leeway, knowing this is a serious and sometimes career-altering injury? Or will they continue to ride him hard as he enters year one of a five-year contract extension worth $125 million?

Video below is from Ryan Lawrence of the Delco Times:

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