Evans Clinchy
Tuesday January 31st, 2012

The Philadelphia Phillies' 2011 season ended in insult and added injury -- Ryan Howard tore his Achilles tendon leaving the batter's box as he grounded out to end the National League Divisional Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Now there's more bad news, as the team has announced that Howard is unlikely to be ready for Opening Day of 2012.

"I think it's more than a reach," Phils GM Ruben Amaro said tonight at a Philadelphia Sports Writers' Association banquet in Cherry Hill, N.J. "If he's back by sometime in May, I'll be happy."

Howard underwent surgery in October and has been rehabbing all winter. Amaro's original prediction was five or six months before the slugging first baseman made a return, but now it's looking like at least seven.

Howard hit .253 with 33 homers last season for the Phillies, who won 102 games and their fifth straight NL East title. Amaro did express optimism about Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, Joe Blanton and Jose Contreras, four other Phillies who have battled minor injuries this offseason.

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