May Day? Ryan Howard won’t set timetable for return

Howard took live batting practice yesterday in Florida.

Baby steps.

That was Ryan Howard’s choice of words when asked to describe where he was at in his rehab after tearing his left Achilles tendon. Howard injured himself on the final swing of the 2011 season, crumpling to the ground in pain as he made the final out in the NLDS.

“Knock on wood, the worst has pretty much happened,” Howard said in his first press conference with reporters.

Howard tore up a few fastballs yesterday as he took live batting practice for the first time since last October. The Phillies’ first baseman would not divulge a time frame for his return, even though Charlie Manuel has speculated Howard could be back in May.

“We’ll see. Ask me in May,” Howard said. “I feel good where I am right now. I’m not going to put a time limit on it. I’m going to listen to my body and see where we are.”

Howard said he doesn’t anticipate playing in any spring training games. He just started swinging a bat two weeks ago. He’s also jogging and fielding ground balls, but he still walks with a slight limp.

“It’s kind of like learning how to run all over again because I’ve been walking with a limp after walking in the boot for about two months,” Howard said.

Howard has added a few pounds, but that’s to be expected considering he was laid up on a couch for two months. The 32-year-old watched a lot of TV during that time, mostly with his fiancé having control of the remote.

“Lots of Housewives shows and sporting events,” he said.

End game

Howard has made the final out in back-to-back, playoff-ending losses. He struck out vs. Brian Wilson in 2010 and grounded out and collapsed in pain in 2011. He knows how it looks to fans.
  
“It sucks and I know how it looks to everybody. Having the season come down [to you] and you’re that guy. I try to stay positive. The last two seasons I got out. I figure I’m about due. I’d love to be in that situation again.”

Howard added that he has only watched the replay of last year’s final out once.
   
“I was asked before if I had hit a home run what would I have done. It would have been ugly I’ll tell you that right now. I would have been crawling, or rolling, doing whatever I could to try to get around the bases.”


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