PHILADELPHIA -- Ryan Howard, who had to be helped off the field following the final out of the Phillies' 1-0 loss in Game 5 of the National League Division Series on Friday, thinks he tore the Achilles tendon in his left ankle. An MRI on Saturday will determine that, but, from the slugger's description, it doesn't look good.
Howard limped his way through the double doors into the Phillies' clubhouse on crutches, unbuttoned jersey untucked from his waist.
After a shower, the slugger began the slow process of getting dressed at his locker, everything from the gray T-shirt, jeans and black Adidas jacket to his necklace, earrings and bracelets and black cap. Then Howard sat down, Vance Worley came over, tapped him on his shoulder while he applied his right sock, left sock, right shoe and left shoe.
Howard then described the pain as he tried running out his groundout to second to end the Phillies' season.
"I was trying to run and I just felt this pop, and the whole thing went numb like it was on fire," Howard said. "I tried to keep going and went down. It literally felt like I was on a flat tire. I tried to get up, [but I] just couldn't go."
Howard said he may have hit his Achilles with his bat during his final swing of the 2011 season. Howard had been dealing with bursitis and an assortment of other foot injuries for the latter part of the summer, but he never was told continued pressure on those joints and ligaments would increase the risk of a serious injury.
"It might've been one of those freak things," he said. "[I] didn't have any pain. I think it was flexed trying to come out of the box. It felt like the bat hit it."
For the second straight year, Howard made the final out of the Phillies' season. Last year's NL Championship Series ended after six games when Howard struck out looking at a pitch by Giants closer Brian Wilson.
This year, the bat jumped off Howard's shoulder. He made contact, but the season ended with him lying on the ground while the Cardinals celebrated on the field.
"It sucks. It sucks," he said. "Being in this situation, having it come down and making the last out and having it happen the way that it happened, it sucks. You don't want to be a part of that. We came up short. The only thing we can do is try to focus on next year and, for me, try to get healthy."
Nate Mink is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.