GM on Ryan Howard: “If he’s back by sometime in May, I’ll be happy”

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A few weeks ago Ruben Amaro Jr. declined to “speculate” about Ryan Howard’s odds of being in the Opening Day lineup, but yesterday the Phillies general manager made it very clear that no one is expecting a return that soon.

Amaro told Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that Howard returning from his torn Achilles’ tendon by Opening Day “is more than a reach” and instead noted that “if he’s back sometime in May, I’ll be happy.”

Ty Wigginton is the obvious in-house replacement for Howard at first base, although manager Charlie Manuel said yesterday that John Mayberry Jr. could also see action there depending on how the Phillies’ outfield looks. And of course Jim Thome is another option, assuming the 41-year-old can handle playing first base on more than an emergency basis.

Tim Beckham to miss six to seven weeks after undergoing core muscle surgery

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Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com reports that Orioles third baseman Tim Beckham underwent core muscle surgery in Philadelphia on Thursday and is expected to miss the next six to seven weeks.

Beckham, 28, was originally diagnosed with a strained left groin. He sustained the injury during spring training and reaggravated it on Monday against the Indians.

Beckham was off to a slow start, batting .179/.247/.262 in 93 plate appearances. Danny Valencia and Jace Peterson should handle the hot corner while Beckham is out.