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Jack McCaffery is the lead sports columnist for the Daily Times and He has spent several decades covering everything from the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers, to college hoops, to high school sports in Delco.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Howard says he's healthy, but is not in the lineup against a right-hander tonight

Ryan Howard says he is ready to resume playing after recovering from a small knee situation.

The Phillies, though, are saying not-so-fast.

With that, the informally scheduled Howard farewell tour at Citizens Bank Park will not likely resume until the Phils return from a road trip for a three-game series with the Mets starting Sept. 30.

Pete Mackanin, who typically arrives at the ballpark around 1 p.m., was counseled by trainers to provide Howard with additional rest Tuesday, even with the visiting Chicago White Sox starting right-handed pitcher James Shields.

Since the White Sox are scheduled to start left-handed Chris Sale, Howard would not start Wednesday, either. That will have given him a five-day, four-game rest after he'd reported a slight fluid buildup on his left knee Saturday.

“When I originally talked to (trainer) Scott Sheridan he said he thought it would be best to give him another day,” Mackanin said. “It's not in his best interest even to tweak it a little bit, this late in the year.”

The Phillies had planned to start Howard as often as possible, particularly against right-handers, during their late-season home games. They are expected to exercise their option to buy out the final year of Howard's contract at season's end, and they were trying to give their fans as many chances as possible to see the top left-handed home-run hitter in franchise history.

But Howard sat out Saturday and Sunday, and the Phillies were off Monday. By Tuesday, he was ready.

“Why wouldn't I be?” he said. “I said I had a small problem. That's all it was. I had some rest. We isolated the problem and controlled the problem.”

Howard was available to pinch-hit Tuesday and Wednesday. After that, they will take a seven-game, eight-day road trip to visit the Braves and Mets.

“I think the worst thing that could happen is that if it did blow up again,” Mackanin said. “It's not going to help him for next year. He'll play quite a bit on this next road trip and certainly the last three games here.”


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