Ryan Howard’s long journey back

‘As Jimmy goes, so goes the Phillies,’ is the familiar refrain uttered by Charlie Manuel. However, the same could be said for Ryan Howard.

The Big Piece is arguably the most integral part of the lineup. Howard, a historic run producer, has averaged 45 home runs and 136 RBIs since his 2005 Rookie of the Year season.

You just can’t replace that kind of production, but the Phillies might have to do something since Howard’s future is uncertain since he ruptured his left Achilles tendon by grounding out to end a disappointing NLDS.

“It sucks,” said Howard, when describing how it felt to end the season in such a horrific manner.

Howard has always been a stand-up guy, but it was mildly surprising that he dealt with the media after a nightmarish loss and injury.

“You want to be on the other side of it,” Howard said of the NLDS series. “But we came up short. The only thing we do is focus on next year and for me that means getting healthy.”

Howard’s massive five-year, $125 million contract kicks in next year. Fans can bet that the proud slugging first baseman will do all that he can to come back strong.

“I’m going to do all that I can to come back as soon as possible,” Howard said. “We’ll see how it goes.”

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