Left knee feeling better, Howard rejoins lineup
Slugger takes it day by day, unsure if he'll need surgery after season
MIAMI -- Ryan Howard has thought about the long-term prognosis for his balky left knee.
He tried his hand at gallows humor to discuss those concerns Tuesday at Marlins Park.
"I guess if I blow up, then I'd be worried about that then," he said.
Howard received a cortisone injection in his knee Sunday in Philadelphia. A MRI exam Monday revealed inflammation and changes in the meniscus, which essentially means he has tears in the cartilage. That would be a concern for anybody, but considering Howard is in just the second season of a five-year, $125 million contract and $85 million of that is owed following this season, Howard's left leg problems carry a little more weight.
He said he does not know if the knee issue could require surgery following the season.
"I would guess that would obviously be worst-case scenario," he said. "But I mean, right now I think it's too early to tell."
But Howard was back in Tuesday's lineup against the Marlins, which is a positive short-term development. He went 3-for-5 with three RBIs, leading a 15-hit attack in a 7-3 victory.
"If I'm playing, obviously it feels pretty good," he said. "But you take it one day … that's why they call it day by day. Today I'm playing, so we'll see how it feels. It feels all right right now."
But the possibility exists the knee issue could be related to the Achilles injury, which forced Howard to miss much of last season.
After all, everything is connected.
"I'm not a doctor, I just play first base," Howard said. "But there could be a chance that it is all related. You know the knee bone is connected to the hip bone, or however the song goes. … We'll continue to just see how it feels and, for the long term, continue to keep an eye out."
Asked if he thought about the possibility of playing the next three seasons with a knee issue, he said, "Yeah, that would [be tough]. But I think that's where you take the time to get a full diagnosis and see … 'OK, this is a situation with my left leg. I want to make sure that my elbows, my knees, my shoulders [are good], all that stuff.' That's just me personally. Either take time in the offseason or whatever to take a look and … 'Are we cool? What's going on over here [left leg], is that going to have an effect with this leg [right leg]? This shoulder?' All that stuff is connected."
Utley scratched with discomfort in right side
MIAMI -- Phillies second baseman Chase Utley had to be scratched from Tuesday's lineup because he felt discomfort on his right side during batting practice. A team official indicated it is in the ribcage area. The club said Utley is receiving treatment and will be sent to have an MRI in Philadelphia on Thursday.
Freddy Galvis took Utley's place at second base.
"When he took a swing, he kind of felt a little burn, a pain in his ribcage," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "I'm sure they'll find out exactly how serious it is [Wednesday]. Sometimes if you keep playing [on it], that can, the ribcage, you can tear that and it can keep getting longer and it can be serious, you can lose some time. I've had that. It's hard to breathe, really hard to swing. We'll see. Hopefully we don't lose him for very long."
Utley has been one of the club's few bright spots this season. He is hitting .272 with seven doubles, two triples, seven home runs and 25 RBIs in 44 games. He has an .814 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, which ranks sixth among 20 qualifying second basemen in baseball.
Utley has missed significant time each of the previous two seasons because of chronically injured knees, but he has said the knees have felt fine.
Day after frustrating loss, Hamels remains quiet
MIAMI -- It will take much more than a penny for Cole Hamels' thoughts.
Hamels signed a six-year, $144 million contract extension last summer, so he certainly doesn't need the money. He declined for a second day to discuss his frustrations following Monday's 5-1 loss to the Marlins at Marlins Park. He pitched well. He allowed seven hits, two runs and struck out 10 in six innings, but once again, the Phillies' offense offered no help.
Hamels left the clubhouse Monday without a word. He maintained his silence Tuesday.
"I think that's been relayed" to a team spokesman, Hamels said, without lifting up his head to look at a reporter.
Philadelphia pitching coach Rich Dubee opined Hamels is upset because the team is 1-9 in his starts and he is putting pressure on himself to perform. But couldn't the lefty be sending a subtle message to an offense that has been held to three or fewer runs in 25 of 45 games this season? Hamels has a 2.87 run support average, which ranks 101st out of 107 qualifying pitchers.
"I don't think so," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I think he was more upset because we didn't win and he pitched good. He pitched very good. I'm sure it's confusing to him when he pitches like he did [Monday] night and it's hard for him to win. That's the competitor in him, that's the part that was upset. Probably thought it was best that he didn't talk to you."
Incredibly, Hamels has not thrown a pitch with a lead since April 7.
"That's amazing," Manuel said.
And incredibly frustrating.
Manuel OK with Marlins' spitting incident
MIAMI -- The Phillies did not seem terribly bothered that Marlins pitcher Alex Sanabia spit on a baseball after allowing a home run Monday to Domonic Brown.
"He did?" Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "That's good. I didn't see it."
So that doesn't bother him?
"Not really," he said. "It happens all the time."
Crew chief Joe West, who was the first-base umpire, said he didn't see Sanabia spit on the ball, and therefore it was used in the game. But later in the game, West did order Sanabia to discard another ball for improperly going to his mouth.
"Honestly, I think it was unintentional," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "He did it probably without even knowing and Joe saw it and threw the ball out."
Baseball rule 8.02 (a) (2) states "the pitcher shall not expectorate on the ball, either hand or glove." The umpire has the discretion to eject the pitcher immediately or warn the pitcher against doing this again, if he does not see any intent to do anything sinister with the baseball. Sanabia rubbed the ball profusely after spitting on it, indicating he was not trying anything malicious.
Bunning, Palmer to represent Phillies at Draft
MIAMI -- The Phillies will have Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning represent them in the first round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft next month.
Scott Palmer, the club's director of public affairs, will also represent the Phils at the Draft.
The draft will take place June 6-8, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on June 6, at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 73 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. Rounds 3-10 will be streamed live on MLB.com on June 7, beginning with a preview show at 12:30 p.m., and Rounds 11-40 will be streamed live on MLB.com on June 8, starting at 1 p.m.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.