Ryan Howard is back from his Achilles injury that he sustained in Game 5 of last year’s NLDS. He sits down with Joe and Evan of WFAN in NY to discuss his comeback, the state of the NL East, and the predicament he finds his team in as they sit in last place in the division. Howard joined WFAN in New York to talk about whether he thinks the Phillies can get out of the cellar in the NL East to make a run at another divisional title, the injury he suffered in the final moments of the Phillies’ playoff exit, if he’s feeling 100 percent healthy, if he’s feeling extra pressure to help get Philly on a run, whether he thinks the Phillies will be sellers at the trade deadline, and an update on Roy Halladay’s status. Before we talk baseball, tell us what you are doing with Subway and the Buddy Badge. “I’m here teaming up with Subway who just recently kicked off a design a Buddy Badge contest on the Subway Facebook page. Log in to Facebook.com, find Subway, and click on the Buddy Badge tab and download the Buddy Badge template. The winning design will actually be announced in the Little League World Series and used throughout the 2013 Challenger Division. It’s a great thing that they are doing and I’m really excited to be a part of it.”
Ryan, it’s got to be good to be back. You come back to a very difficult situation, buried in last place in the division. Do you think this team can make a run here in the second half?
“Yea, I think the All Star break came at the right time. Everybody just needs to go off and clear their mind, relax, enjoy their families during these few days off, and just come back with a new mind set for the second half. We have to go out, execute, and win series’. “I felt terrible for you guys on that final out of game 5. Take us through what happened in that final play. “It was just one of those things. I swung and just tried to get out of the box and initially I just thought I slipped and I thought to myself ‘how can you slip right now?’. I tried to get up and there was just nothing in my foot, like running on a flat tire. Then I felt this fiery tingle up my leg and I knew something was wrong and pretty bad at that point.”
You’re back now but are you back to being completely healthy?
“I’m not 100% healthy in the strength aspect but i’m about 80 – 85% so i’m going to go out there and give 100% of 85%. The Achilles and everything is fine, that’s not a problem whatsoever. Some of the surrounding muscles in the foot and calf , it takes a little bit longer to build all that strength back up. We are going to continue the rehab process as well, continue to monitor it and right now it feels good to get back out there and it feels good to play and get back into the flow of the game.”
Did you feel pressure to come back sooner because of the team’s struggles?
“No, no I didn’t. One of the things that was going through my mind was that I didn’t want to rush back. I want to make sure I take my time and I want to make sure I am good enough to go out there and contribute. Otherwise I would only be a detriment to myself and my team. I just wanted to make sure I could go out there and play to the best of my abilities.”
Are you surprised about how this division is right now?
“Yea, its been kind of a crazy ride but that’s why you play 162 games. If the season ended right now, we would be the team going home but we still have life and we feel we can come back and make a run. I’m sure that everybody does because that’s how you should feel. If we can come back with the right mind set, I think we can make some things happen.”
You guys are a different team in the second half. Is there confidence that you have done it before and you can do it again?
“Yea, I think so. Before we got where we are we were on the other side of the mountain working our way up. Yea, we put ourselves at a little bit of a steeper mountain to climb but I think it’s doable. It’s us just maintaining our focus, going out their handling our business the way we know we can and hopefully at the end of the day we’re there.”
Are you concerned that maybe the Phillies are going to be sellers at the trade deadline?
“No, It really doesn’t. It’s part of the game, it’s part of the business aspect. That’s what happens this time of year but as players all we can do is go out there and play. We can’t focus on who is going to be traded or this or that. You go with what you got. So, the only thing we can do is control what we can on the field and let the rest of that stuff sort itself out.
What about Roy Halladay? Will we see him soon after the All Star break?
“Hopefully, but once again, you want him to be fully healthy so he can compete. You don’t want him to come back too soon and get hurt again because it doesn’t help him or the team. We have to try to get through it with the guys that we have and get him back so he can hit the ground running.”