The Big Piece is back.
Following last night’s suggestion from Ruben Amaro that he could be in the lineup tonight, the Phillies made good on their word when they activated Ryan Howard from the disabled list today. Hector Luna has been sent to Lehigh Valley to make room on the 25-man roster.
Howard, who was recovering from the torn Achilles he suffered during game 5 of last year’s NLDS, had been rehabbing at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but now he’ll be batting cleanup for the Phillies.
The move comes on the heels of what was undoubtedly the Phillies’ most painful loss of the season–a 6-5 walk-off loss to the Mets last night that pushed the team ten games below .500, 13 games back of the first-place Nationals and 8.5 back of the wild card.
During his brief rehab, which began just over a week ago on June 28, Howard went 10-for-20 (.500) with a 1.327 OPS, one home run and ten RBI between Single-A Lakewood and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The results have been positive for Howard, but the sample size is limited (26 total PA), and he can hardly be expected to keep putting up those types of numbers on the Major League level.
The activation of Howard has “panic” written all over it. With their season on life support, it has the feel of a last ditch effort by the team to claw their way back into contention before a playoff spot is completely out of sight.
The wisdom of this move will undoubtedly be questioned should Howard suffer a set back. You’d hate to see him lose more time, or jeopardize a long-term recovery, because of a knee-jerk decision to get him back playing in hopes of some short-term success that, in the end, probably won’t help save the season anyway.
Still, seeing Howard back in a Phillies lineup will be one of the few positives this team has had lately. He lengthens the lineup, and, even at 75%, will be an improvement over who the team currently has manning first base.
Grab a bucket, Ryan. You’re getting dropped onto a sinking ship, and this team needs all the bailers it can find.