Pre-game notes on Howard, FSU, and the Phillies' health

The Phillies have not set a timetable for Ryan Howard's return. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

We are only getting a taste of baseball today as the Florida State Seminoles are in town. But it is better than watching sliding drills. For those who care about the opponent, FSU is led by center fielder James Ramsey, who hit .364 with 10 home runs and 67 RBI last season as a junior. He was selected in the 22nd round of the draft by the Twins but elected to return for his senior season. Baseball America has him ranked as the top senior in the country. 


Florida State features a lefty pitcher named Brandon Leibrandt, who is the son of former Major League pitcher Charlie Leibrandt. Leibrandt played with Phillies special assignment scout Charlie Kerfeld on the 1990 Braves. Juan Samuel and Ryne Sandberg combined to go 13-for-35 with two home runs and two doubles against him during their major league careers. For what it's worth. 



What is your reaction to the Phillies’ Ryan Howard suffering a setback in his recovery from Achilles tendon surgery?

Whether Ryan Howard suffered a set-back is a matter of semantics. The Phillies have never set a specific timetable for his return, so it isn't a set-back in that sense. At the same time, he hasn't worked out for a few days and the Phillies cannot say when he will be back in action, so in that sense, his routine has, at least literally, been set back by the infection he developed along the incision that was made for his October Achilles surgery. 

That being said, this is all a reminder of why the Phillies have declined to set a timetable: rehab is an unpredictable process filled with peaks and valleys and plateaus. While it is probably fair to say that Howard entered spring training ahead of where the Phillies planned on him being, it probably isn't fair to say that the Phillies thought he was in the clear and cruising toward an April return. Even Howard has said that, regardless of when he returns, he might not be at full strength until after the All-Star Break. I still get the indication that a reasonable window for his return is the last week of May to the first week of June. It could be earlier. It could easily be later. If this is a set-back, it doesn't appear to be of the magnitude that would significantly alter the trajectory of his return. That said, the best way to put it is probably this: It doesn't help. What you want to call it is up to you.


Speaking of injuries. . .

Sports Illustrated just posted its latest team health report for the Phillies. Really, there isn't anything you don't know. Will Carroll breaks players into three categories: green light, or those who carry the least risk for injury, yellow light, which is moderate risk, and red light, which is high risk. In the green light category, he has Hunter Pence, Roy Halladay, Jonathan Papelbon, Cliff Lee and Antonio Bastardo. Bastardo and Lee are the only two I'd disagree with. Last year is the first year Bastardo made it through without battling arm problems, and even then only after he spent the first couple weeks of spring training behind the other pitchers in camp.

Carroll crunches a lot of data when formulating his projections, so they are interesting to look at. One of the weaknesses of his system, at least form my vantage point, is the lack of distinction for the severity of injuries. For example, Shane Victorino is listed as a "yellow light," or medium-risk, player. And it is true that Victorino usually spends at least a couple of weeks on the disabled list with a muscle tissue injury. But intuition suggests to me that he is one of the players on the roster who is least likely to suffer a significant injury that has the potential to make a major impact on the Phillies' season.

Otherwise, the list jibes with common sense: Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco and Joe Blanton are all red lights. Not included in any category is Jose Contreras, who I would expect to be a red light. John Mayberry Jr. is not included in any category, although I would expect him to be a green light.