Howard likely out until Thursday

Ryan Howard tips his hat to the crowd as the Phillies celebrate their fifth straight division title. (Charles Fox/Staff Photographer)

The batting order went up, Ryan Howard was sitting down. Which was no big whoop since he’d been planning to have a cortisone shot to try to alleviate the bursitis he’s been experiencing in his left ankle as soon as the Phillies clinched the division here.

The twist here is that Charlie Manuel showed up at Citizens Bank Park before last night’s nationally televised game against the Cardinals fully intending to start the National League RBI leader; the injection isn’t scheduled until this morning.

The plan changed after the manager talked to Howard and found out that he hurt his right big toe in Saturday night’s game.

“We’re hoping it’s not a big deal. I don’t know what it was, if I jammed it or what,” the first baseman said.

Howard hopes to be ready to play again by Thursday. “I think I’ll probably be down a couple days because it’s such a tricky or sensitive area,” he added.

Said Ruben Amaro Jr.: “The doctor is going to inject him in the bursa sac. We’ve got to calm it down. It’s been bothering him.” The general manager went on to say he doesn’t expect postseason surgery to be required.

Howard made a joke when asked how long it would take him to get his swing back when he returns to the lineup.

“To get my true explosiveness back, it will probably take an entire offseason,” he said with a laugh. “But for the playoffs, I think I’ll probably be back by Thursday. That’s realistic. They just want to give it time to settle in, see how it takes or whatnot and then try to come back then.

“You want to be out there and play but at the same time, now the focus is more on October, being healthy for October.”

Even though Howard was hobbled by a sprained ankle last season, Amaro is confident this won’t become an ongoing issue. “I think he’s going to be fine. I don’t see the relationship between the ankle sprain last year and the bursitis. I don’t see the connection. They’ve never mentioned that to me.”

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