Ryan Howard’s season ended last year when he was getting out of the batter’s box, but this year it ended in the on-deck circle.
According to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, Howard will miss the rest of the season due to a broken big right toe. Howard suffered the injury Thursday when he dropped the lead pipe he uses as a warm-up bat in the on-deck circle on his foot. Seriously. The fracture was confirmed with an X-ray yesterday in Miami.
This is a fitting end to a disappointing season for Howard, who didn’t make his season debut until July 6 after Achilles tendon surgery. He ended up batting just .219/.295/.423 with 14 home runs, 56 RBI and a .718 OPS in 292 plate appearances, including an ugly .604 OPS and 45/5 K/BB ratio in 106 plate appearances against southpaws.
Chances are Howard will see some improvement with a full offseason to get back into shape, but he turns 33 in November and is still owed $20 million next season, $25 million from 2014-2016 and a $10 million buyout on his $23 million club option for 2017. This is one of those contracts where you keep looking back at it to see if it’s as bad as you originally thought. Yep, still bad.
Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.
Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.
Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.
On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.