Roy Halladay is gearing up for a return later this month, but things are far less certain with Ryan Howard as he continues his rehab from July surgery on his right knee.
Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com was told by Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. that Howard has lost 15 to 20 pounds during his workouts, but has yet to be cleared to swing a bat. With many hurdles remaining in his rehab process, Amaro isn’t ready to say whether the veteran first baseman will make it back this season.
“I have no idea when or if he is going to be back this year,” Amaro said. “If he’s 100 percent and doing baseball activities, it’s possible. But there’s no reason to rush him back.”
When Howard had surgery to repair his meniscus back on July 10, he was expected to miss at least six to eight weeks. Perhaps there would be more sense of urgency if the Phillies were still in things, but they entered play tonight at 52-65 on the year. With $75 million owed to Howard over the next three seasons, there’s every reason for him to take his time.
The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.
Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.
While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.