Howard exits early with sprained left ankle

Howard exits early with sprained left ankle

WASHINGTON -- Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard left Nationals Park on Sunday crutches, but maybe it isn't as bad as it looked.

Howard sprained his left ankle trying to get back to second base in the first inning in a 6-4 victory in 11 innings over the Washington Nationals. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he doesn't think Howard will be placed on the 15-day disabled list, although Howard said he can't be certain until the swelling subsides.

"It hurts," Howard said. "Right now it's just swollen. It's tight. Other than that, it's not too, too bad."

X-rays were negative.

Howard also had X-rays on his right elbow after being hit by a pitch. They also were negative. He hopes to be back in the lineup in a couple days, and Tuesday's series opener in Florida is a possibility.

"You never know," Howard said. "It's a good thing we have an off-day tomorrow. ... I was able to move it. Standing on it wasn't that bad, but moving it laterally, I could feel it. It was hurting."

Howard tried to get back to second base after Ben Francisco had singled to right field to score Jayson Werth to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead. But Howard stepped awkwardly on the base, and dropped to the ground. He turned over and clearly winced in pain.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and assistant athletic trainer Mark Anderson helped Howard off the field. Head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan met Howard at the dugout steps.

Howard is hitting .292 with 23 home runs and 81 RBIs this season. Howard leads the National League in RBIs. He is sixth in homers and eighth in slugging percentage (.528).

"He's pretty big and strong," Manuel said. "He ain't dead by a long shot."