Ryan Howard appears to be healthy. The man is definitely happy and he’s certainly wealthy. The question is: Can this Philadelphia Phillies‘ veteran regain his power punch and knock off 35+ home runs and 110+ RBI’s this season?
At 33-years-old and with only nine seasons listed on his digital baseball card, Howard is hardly finished. The man tore his Achilles’ tendon, had surgery, wasn’t fully recovered last year and still played anyway. What did people expect from him, a Most Valuable Player Award season?
Mike Schmidt was, is and may always be the greatest Phillies’ player of all-time. That Hall of Famer is certainly the greatest slugger in Philadelphia baseball history. Last season every off-base Howard detractor definitively learned (whether they will admit it, or not) that he’s the second-greatest power player in franchise history.
The Phillies simply weren’t the same without their “Big Piece”. Sure, there were professional major league players who stood at first base, or hit fourth in the lineup last season when Howard wasn’t on the active roster. None of them (including the supplemented version of Carlos Ruiz) could sustain the type of consistent effort that number 6 gave from 2005-2011.
It’s natural that everyone would have honest questions about Howard’s ability to bounce back this season, or to re-gain his past effectiveness in 2013. But, the confidence that he conveyed to the media today about his current status and approaching seasonal performance was nothing short of inspiring.
With the injury behind him, his middle-aged body intact and logical reasoning clearly stated, Howard needs only to get on the field and prove that his confidence is well founded.