Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer made an attempt to take in Ryan Howard’s rehab routine in Clearwater, Florida last week. He was in the area anyway to cover the Red Sox, who were playing the Rays and would be heading to Philadelphia for an interleague series in a few days. His plan proved to backfire rather badly.
Brookover knew going in that Howard wouldn’t be conducting any interviews, but assumed he’d be able to see him take some ground balls and watch him hit. That seemingly simple plan ended up being foiled twice. Upon his first ejection from the ballpark, he was spotted by a stadium employee as Howard prepared to hit. It was explained to him that “no one from outside the Phillies organization is allowed to watch Ryan Howard work out.” That was boot number one.
After getting on the phone with the Phillies director of communications, Brookover learned of the team’s fear that they did not to want learn of a possible Howard setback on Twitter, preferring to be the first to know. Nonetheless, he was allowed to reenter the park with the understanding he wouldn’t do any tweeting and would not speak to Howard. That didn’t exactly go as planned because he was immediately rebuffed by minor-league infield coordinator, Doug Mansolino, in what had to be the best faux tough guy stance of the week.
Long story short, Mansolino made sure I was removed from the ballpark a second time. When I paused to continue a phone conversation with Casterioto, Mansolino gave me his best big-league stare-down. “Dude, relax, I’m leaving,” I told him. “It’s Doug, not Dude,” he bristled.
Quite the intimidator. Making matters infinitely worse, the organization has also refused to discuss the cortisone shots Howard received near the area of his Achilles tendon last September. While such shots are commonplace for elbow and shoulder injuries, shots administered anywhere near the Achilles tendon are said to be “far less common and far more problematic.”
As you’re well aware, less than three weeks after receiving said shots, Howard collapsed like he was gunned down by a sniper, tearing his left Achilles on the final play of Philly’s season in Game 5 of the NLDS against St. Louis.
Considering what doctors have stated about cortisone shots to that area, it seems rather foolish to have rushed him back for the postseason with so much at stake and knowing the risks, especially when you take into account the mountain of money the team has invested in Howard. Here’s Dr. Michael Schafer, chairman of the orthopedic surgery department at Northwestern University Hospital:
“There wouldn’t be any way that you would back me into the corner on anybody [with an Achilles problem] to go ahead and inject them. I’ve been in practice since 1974 and been involved in sports all my life. When it comes to the risk of an Achilles tendon tear, I’m concerned about cortisone.”
Ouch. The Phillies have some explaining to do. Given the silence thus far from team brass, Howard himself and the secrecy of his rehab, this situation is destined to get endlessly worse.