With a 21-23 record through their first 44 games, it hasn’t been a storybook start to the 2013 season for the Philadelphia Phillies. They have a -34 run differential this season, and the majority of that problem has been their lack of offensive production, as they’ve managed to generate just 156 runs (4th-worst in the NL) for an average of only 3.54 runs per game. As if the offensive woes weren’t enough in Philly, they received some troubling news on Sunday afternoon.
Both first baseman Ryan Howard and catcher Carlos Ruiz have been scheduled for MRI exams on Monday after experiencing injury issues over the weekend. Howard, the former MVP and silver slugger award winner, sat out Sunday’s game with left knee soreness and was quoted as saying that his knee has “been acting up” in recent days. Howard has only a .712 OPS this season, and with his documented struggles against left-handed pitching (and on defense), he needs to have his powerful legs underneath him at the plate.
As for Ruiz, he exited Sunday’s 3-2 win over Cincinnati early with a reported strained right hamstring. At first glance, that doesn’t seem like a terribly serious injury, but with reports of Ruiz saying that he felt a “pop” while running the bases, the damage could be worse. Ruiz missed the first 25 games of the season after an off-season suspension for Adderall use, and since his return, has struggled noticeably at the plate. Through his first 55 plate appearances (admittedly a small sample size), Ruiz is slugging just .280 (which is woeful) and he has yet to hit a home run in 2013.
The Philadelphia lineup would be in serious trouble without these two bats in the middle of it, and in their absence (however long), Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins will be called on to step up their production. Stay tuned as the results of each MRI become available in the coming days.