Ryan Howard “is making encouraging progress” in recovery from torn Achilles’ tendon

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Jeff Janiczek of the Philadelphia Daily News writes that Ryan Howard “is making encouraging progress” recovering from the torn Achilles’ tendon he suffered in the final at-bat of the NLDS.

Charlie Manuel told Janiczek that he touched base with Howard “about 10 days ago” and “he’s doing really well.”

It’s early enough in the recovery process that “doing really well” probably doesn’t mean a whole lot and Manuel admitted that “the big test” will come in 2-3 months when the first baseman “really starts to move around and do things.”

Howard didn’t “move around” a ton before the injury, so it makes sense that a torn Achilles’ tendon wouldn’t wreck his value as much as it would, say, a shortstop or center fielder who relies on speed and athleticism. Right now the best-case scenario for the Phillies seems like Howard returning to the lineup at some point in late April or early May.

A.J. Hinch: “If it was any other time of the year, [José Altuve] wouldn’t be in the lineup.”

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It has been evident throughout the playoffs that Astros second baseman José Altuve’s right knee is bothering him. Altuve battled a right knee issue in July, then banged it up again in Game 2 of the ALDS and it’s been a problem ever since.

Manager A.J. Hinch said that if it were the regular season, he wouldn’t put Altuve in the lineup. Per MLB.com’s Richard Justice, the full quote:

He’s hurt. And if it was any other time of the year, he wouldn’t be in the lineup or wouldn’t be playing. He’d probably be on the DL. … But he’s showing up every day in good spirits, ready to go, giving 100 percent of what he’s got. He should be commended.

Hinch also said of Altuve, “His teammates revere him. The production that he’s doing on one leg is pretty incredible. And he’s trying not to talk about it. And therefore I am.”

During the ALCS, Altuve has hit .250/.368/.313 in 16 at-bats. He has just one extra-base hit but he has racked up three singles and drawn three walks while scoring four runs. Hinch has had Marwin González start at second base Games 3 and 4 and is doing so again on Thursday night in Game 5.