Ryan Howard needs knee surgery, out 6-8 weeks

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Ryan Howard underwent an MRI exam after being placed on the disabled list with a left knee injury and the Phillies first baseman has been diagnosed with a torn meniscus.

He’s expected to miss 6-8 weeks, which would knock Howard out until at least late August and possibly the remainder of the season if any setbacks occur.

Last season Howard struggled after returning from a torn Achilles’ tendon and he got off to a slow start this season as well, but since June 1 he’d hit .287 with four homers and an .885 OPS in 30 games. Overall since coming back from the torn Achilles’ tendon that occurred during the 2011 playoffs Howard has hit just .244 with a .752 OPS in 151 games, which is a 150-point dropoff from his career OPS.

Howard, who’ll be 34 years old in November, is making $20 million this season and the Phillies owe him $25 million per season for 2014, 2015, and 2016, plus a $23 million team option or $10 million buyout for 2017.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.