By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
PHILADELPHIA—Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a sore left knee that has been bothering him throughout the season.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Howard was experiencing discomfort in the knee at the end of Friday night’s game. He left the game in the eighth inning and was replaced by Laynce Nix.
“(Saturday) morning, he tried to take ground balls and tried to hit,” Amaro said. “But it wasn’t going very well for him and he wasn’t going to be able to perform. We had said before that if his knee got so delibilitated that he couldn’t perform, we go ahead and shut him down.”
Amaro said Howard would be getting an MRI on Sunday or Monday. That will probably determine whether or not he needs surgery on the knee and how long he will be out of the Phillies lineup.
“Even with the MRI as much discomfort he has today and the days leading up to today it had become less and less comfortable for him,” Amaro said.
In his last 10 games, Howard has been hitting just .147 (5-for-34) with one homerun, two runs batted in and 14 strikeouts. Throughout the season, Howard’s left knee was swollen so bad that it resembled a grapefruit hanging off his leg.
Oddly enough, Howard has managed to play well with the pain in his knee. In one game 10-game stretch last month, Howard was hitting over .400. But the knee really bothered him on the Phillies last road trip and he went through a stretch where he went hitless in 15 straight at-bats.
“He’s really managed it okay and Charlie’s been trying to get him days off and working through it, but it got to the point to where we feel like it’s time for him to get off of it and make sure we take care of it.”
The Phillies will bring up Darin Ruf from the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs squad. Amaro said Ruf will be getting some time playing first base throughout Howard’s absence.
“This is a big blow to us because (Howard) is our best power hitter, but we’ll see how it goes over the next couple of weeks,” Amaro said.
In 82 games with the Iron Pigs, Ruf is batting .266 with 46 runs batted and seven home runs. In 12 games with the Phillies back in September 2012, Ruf batted .333 with 10 runs batted and three home runs. Ruf came into the Phillies lineup on Saturday as a late-inning replacement for Laynce Nix.