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.