D.J. Short

Baseball Daily Dose

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Here Comes Howard

Friday, July 06, 2012


Desperate times call for desperate measures. And we could be witnessing that with the last-place Phillies right now.

After a crushing walkoff loss to the Mets on Thursday night which dropped the Phillies to 37-47 on the year, 13 games back in the division and 8 1/2 back for the Wild Card, general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. announced that Ryan Howard will likely be activated from the disabled list to play Friday against the Braves. The rehabbing first baseman confirmed as much via his Twitter account, saying, "Excited to be back in Philly tomorrow."

Howard, who is in the first year of a five-year, $125 million extension, hasn't played in a major league game since rupturing his left Achilles tendon on the final out of the NLDS against the Cardinals last October. The Phillies originally hoped to have him back sometime in May, but his timetable was pushed back a bit after he required a procedure to clean out an infection in the wound. The 32-year-old finally began a rehab assignment last week and while most assumed that he would return immediately following the All-Star break, the Phillies think he's ready to go right now.

Howard went 10-for-20 (.500) with a homer, a double and five walks over seven games between Class A Lakewood and Triple-A Lehigh Valley, so his bat appears ready, but he just played a full nine innings at first base for the first time Thursday. His baserunning is a work in progress and it will likely take a while for him to get back into his regular playing shape. Similar to Chase Utley's schedule, he should get a day or two off per week for routine maintenance.

The Phillies have already acknowledged that Howard likely won't be 100 percent again until 2013, so while he's worth having around in most mixed leagues, it would be unfair to expect the massive power numbers we have seen in the past. He's no savior for your fantasy team. Or the Phillies' season, for that matter.

Haren Hits DL

Here's something you don't see very often. Or, well, ever. Dan Haren was placed on the disabled list Thursday with lower back stiffness. Not only is it his first ever trip to the disabled list, but Sunday will be the first time he has missed a start since becoming a full-time starting pitcher with the Athletics back in 2005.

It wasn't until Haren was knocked around for seven runs (six earned) over 4 1/3 innings against the Indians on Monday that he finally acknowledged his back has been an issue for "pretty much the whole year." The 31-year-old right-hander has an uncharacteristic 4.86 ERA through 17 starts this season and his average fastball velocity is down to 88.8 mph (down from his career average of 90.9 mph), so it's not surprising to hear that his struggles are injury-related.

The big question is how much time Haren will need to miss. Tests haven't revealed anything more than inflammation, so the Angels are hopeful he'll return as soon as he is eligible. We should know a lot more once he starts throwing again.

Storen Begins Rehab Stint

The first-place Nationals are close to getting a valuable piece of their bullpen back, as Drew Storen tossed a perfect inning Thursday in his first minor league rehab appearance with High-A Potomac.

Storen, who saved 43 games last year, underwent surgery in April to remove bone fragments from his throwing elbow. The current plan calls for him to make three more rehab appearances before rejoining the Nats' bullpen when the second half of the season begins next Friday against the Marlins.

Brad Lidge and Henry Rodriguez were initially given opportunities to close games in Storen's absence, but Tyler Clippard has moved seamlessly into the ninth-inning role of late, going a perfect 13-for-13 in save opportunities. He owns a 1.78 ERA on the year and hasn't allowed an earned run since way back on May 16. Things could change down the road, but Nationals manager Davey Johnson doesn't plan to take Clippard out of the closer role just because Storen is back.  

NL Quick Hits: Giancarlo Stanton (knee) has already been ruled out for Friday's game and remains questionable for the weekend and the upcoming Home Run Derby and All-Star Game … Roy Halladay (lat) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Saturday and is quickly closing in on a rehab assignment … Carlos Lee went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored Thursday in his Marlins' debut … David Wright homered and drove in four runs in a win over the Phillies on Thursday, including a walkoff RBI single against Jonathan PapelbonDee Gordon needs surgery to repair a torn UCL in his right thumb and is expected to miss six weeks … Jayson Werth (wrist) isn't expected to begin swinging a bat until after the All-Star break … Jonny Venters landed on the disabled list Thursday with a left elbow impingement … Lance Lynn tossed six scoreless innings Thursday against the Rockies for his 11th victory … Freddy Sanchez underwent back surgery Thursday and will miss the rest of the season … Michael Fiers struck out nine while allowing two runs over 7 1/3 innings Thursday in a loss to the Marlins and now has a 2.31 ERA and 50/9 K/ BB ratio in 46 2/3 innings … Frank Francisco (oblique) is expected to begin throwing from a mound Saturday … Alex Presley was placed on the 7-day disabled list Thursday with a concussion … Kirk Nieuwenhuis (hand) went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts Thursday in his return to the lineup … Matt Carpenter made his first professional start at second base in Thursday's game against the Rockies …

AL Quick Hits: Dustin Pedroia (thumb) is expected to be placed on the disabled list Friday … Nick Markakis (hamate bone surgery) is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment Friday with Double-A Bowie and should rejoin the Orioles right after the All-Star break … Brandon Morrow (oblique) threw from a distance of 150 feet on Thursday … Luke Hochevar left Thursday's start against the Blue Jays after five innings with a sprained ankle, but still picked up the victory … Travis Hafner (knee) homered Thursday in his second game back from the disabled list … Kevin Youkilis went 6-for-13 with two home runs and six RBI during the White Sox three-game sweep of the Rangers … Jose Quintana tossed eight innings of one-run ball Thursday against the Rangers and now has an unlikely 2.08 ERA through eight starts … Matt Capps (shoulder) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Saturday, which could clear the way for him to begin a minor league rehab assignment … Matt Joyce tweaked his lower back during a minor league rehab game Wednesday with Triple-A Durham … Luke Scott went 0-for-3 against the Indians on Thursday and is now hitless over his last 39 at-bats … The Mariners demoted struggling right-hander Hector Noesi to Triple-A Tacoma … Chris Davis was scratched from Thursday's lineup due to a muscle strain in his back … The Blue Jays released Jamie Moyer after he was blasted in two starts with Triple-A Las Vegas …



D.J. Short is a Rotoworld baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. You can also find him on Twitter.
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