Phillies don’t expect Ryan Howard back before July

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There’s been a lot more secrecy than firm timetables when it comes to Ryan Howard’s recovery from a torn Achilles’ tendon, but today Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. finally offered some news on the first baseman’s status.

Asked by Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com if Howard would be able to return at some point in July, the GM replied: “I don’t believe so. I don’t think so.”

Then, when asked if Howard would return before the All-Star break in mid-July, he said: “I don’t know.”

You know, just in case the Roy Halladay news wasn’t enough to ruin Phillies fans’ week.

Howard tore his Achilles’ tendon making the final out of the Phillies’ season in October and initially there was some hope that he’d be back in the lineup in May, but an infection ruined those plans and slowed his rehab timetable considerably. Seven months later he’s still building up strength in his atrophied calf.

Howard is in the first season of a five-year, $125 million contract extension.

Baseball to honor Stoneman Douglas High School as spring training games begin

New Era
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There were a few exhibitions against college teams yesterday but today the Grapefruit League and Cactus League schedules begin in earnest, with big league teams, more or less, facing big league team, more or less.

The baseball will look like baseball, but the teams will be wearing different caps today: black caps with the maroon “SD” of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting on February 14.

All teams and umpire crews will wear the caps pre-game, and they have the option to wear the caps during the games. The only two teams not playing today — the Royals and Rangers — will wear them tomorrow.

After the games players will sign the caps and they will be auctioned off to raise money for the Broward Education Foundation, which benefits the official Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund.

Here’s today’s schedule: