Amaro defends handling of Howard's injury

Amaro defends handling of Howard's injury

Amaro defends handling of Howard's injury
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. waited patiently in the media workroom at Citizens Bank Park midway through the fourth inning of Sunday's game against Boston. Eventually, close to 20 reporters filed into the room, and Amaro came right to the point of an impromptu news conference.

"I'm a little uncomfortable doing it," Amaro Jr. said. "We don't like to react to things, especially like this.

"There is an article written today about the handling of Ryan Howard's injury last year. I just wanted to make sure you were aware that some of the innuendo -- I guess you would say 'insinuation' -- surrounding that, I just wanted to address it a little bit."

Two stories were featured in the Sunday edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The first -- and the one that truly caught the attention of the organization -- was about the cortisone shot first baseman Ryan Howard received on Sept. 18, 2011. Just weeks later, Howard tore his Achilles tendon on the final play of the season in a National League Division Series loss to St. Louis. The slugger has yet to return to action.

The story asked, "Did cortisone contribute to or hasten Howard's tear? Would it have been wiser in the long run for him to forgo the shot, even if it meant missing the postseason? Was the decision his alone? Did the Phillies recommend and endorse the treatment? If so, why would the team take such a risk with a franchise player to whom it owes $125 million?"

The article stated that the Phillies declined to participate in the story, but that led to a situation that Amaro felt he had to address sooner, rather than later.

"As far as the cortisone shot, Ryan was treated for something -- an issue, a bursitis issue -- not a part of the Achilles," Amaro said. "When that was treated, that was treated by a world-renown specialist [orthopedic surgeon Mark Myerson] to do that, and it was done with an ultrasound, and was ultrasound-guided.

"We didn't feel there was any issue. In fact, [team physician Dr. Michael] Ciccotti and I discussed this because we knew about some of the issues that surround using cortisone in that area -- the Achilles. So we were very comfortable and just wanted to make sure that was clear."

"Also, the [Achilles] injury was something that occurred that was much further away from that [original] area than anybody, I guess, really knew. After talking to Myerson about it and consulting with him afterwards, the bursitis thing was already taken care of and was resolved by the time that Ryan sustained his [Achilles] injury. We don't feel frankly that one thing had to do with the other."

The second article recounts attempts to watch Howard rehab in Clearwater, Fla. In that story -- one in which Amaro and the public relations staff did communicate with the writer -- the security staff at Bright House Networks Field and Minor League infield coordinator Doug Mansolino tried to have the reporter removed from the stadium.

"[Howard] has an injury that requires a certain level of stretching to get back, and he hasn't gotten to the point in his rehab where we feel comfortable with him being out there for everyone," Amaro said. "When its time for him to be seen, he'll be seen.

"We're not trying to hide things. That's not our job. Our job is to have the best interest of the player in mind, and we want to make sure he gets ready at his own pace. And when you have people getting involved in a rehab such as this, it can, in fact, affect the player. And when it comes to a guy like this, or any rehab, we want to make sure he gets back at the proper pace."

In the end, it's clear that what bothered the Phillies organization and Amaro the most was the implication that they did not put the health and welfare of their players first. And it's that reason Amaro took time to address the issue on Sunday.

"Obviously, we have a tremendous investment in Ryan," Amaro said. "And to be frank with you, we are probably the most conservative when it comes to cortisone shots.

"I will tell you -- I've been around a long time, I've seen a lot of medical reports over the years and [we're] probably one of the most conservative clubs in baseball [in] giving those types of shots. We certainly do have the players' best interests, short-term and long-term."

Michael Radano is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.