The Phillies have downplayed the severity of the infection that developed two weeks ago around Ryan Howard’s surgically-repaired Achilles tendon.
But it sure sounds like a pretty major setback.
According to beat reporter Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Howard will be in a walking boot for the next 10 days as he recovers from a cleanup procedure designed to remove the infection and has been instructed to stay away from the Phillies’ spring training complex indefinitely.
Howard was cleared for light workouts shortly after his arrival to Phillies camp, but he’s now been idle since February 25 and nobody can say for certain when he might be cleared to return to action.
“I don’t know when he’s going to start baseball activities,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Sunday. “I don’t have any idea. I don’t have any time frame one way or another. Hopefully he can get the boot off as soon as possible and we can be sure. We’re not going to do anything with him unless we’re sure the infection is out. He could be backed up for a while. I don’t know. I really don’t know. I don’t have any time frame.”
Howard was originally aiming to return sometime in May, but it’s safe to wonder whether he’s in danger of missing the entire first half. The 32-year-old slugger tallied 33 homers and 116 RBI in 152 games last season.
Infielder Brett Lawrie successfully avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract with the White Sox on Friday, per a team announcement. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that the deal was for $3.5 million, significantly lower than the $4.125 million Lawrie was paid by the White Sox in 2016.
The White Sox acquired Lawrie last December in a swap for minor league arms Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. After splitting time at second and third base for the Athletics in 2015, Lawrie slotted in at second base and DH for the White Sox and batted .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs in 384 PA. While it’s strange to see a healthy, fairly productive player receive a salary reduction in arbitration, Lawrie missed nearly half of the season with a strain in his left hamstring, though he’s projected to return at full health by the start of the 2017 season.
Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.
The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.
The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.