Ryan Howard has Achilles examined

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is in Baltimore to have his surgically repaired left Achilles examined.

Scott Sheridan, the Phillies head athletic trainer, said Monday the visit wasn't a sign of a setback on Howard's rehabilitation. Weekend reports indicated that Howard was wearing a bandage on his left ankle because of a seroma, an open wound at the surgical point.

Howard will visit with Dr. Mark Myerson, who performed the surgery, before returning to Clearwater Wednesday.

"We wanted Ryan to go back and see Mark, so this is a scheduled appointment. It just so happens that there's a nice little adjunct to it, that he's going to have something else to look at," Sheridan said. "The Achilles tendon is notorious for not healing well, the skin over top of it. The Achilles area doesn't have a great success rate as far as the skin. It sometimes has breakdowns and it becomes challenging.

"That's not uncommon from the repair. But when things like this happen, that's why you send him back to who did the surgery and let him evaluate him."

Howard suffered a torn left Achilles in Game 5 of the National League Division Series against St. Louis in October. He is expected to begin the 2012 season on the disabled list. But during the first week of spring training, Howard participated in baseball activities, including batting practice, infield work and light jogging.

On Saturday, the day before he left camp, Howard took part in a regular batting practice drill with teammates Jim Thome, Juan Pierre and Domonic Brown. Howard launched more than a couple of balls over the fence during the session.

"Ryan's been doing great," Sheridan said. "He's been on the field and doing the things we expected of him at this point. We're just hoping to keep it in the right direction."

Howard will likely miss at least the first month of the season while he continues to rehabilitate from the Oct. 12 surgery. But the Phillies are accustomed to playing without the services of an All-Star infielder.

Second baseman Chase Utley was sidelined throughout spring training with right knee tendinitis a year ago, and missed the first seven weeks of the 2011 regular season. Both third baseman Placido Polanco and shortstop Jimmy Rollins have also missed significant time with injuries in the last two seasons, as well.

The Phillies, in the offseason, added three veterans -- Thome, Ty Wigginton and Laynce Nix -- who, along with John Mayberry Jr., figure to see time at first base while Howard is sidelined.

"Obviously, the goal is to want to get out there as soon as possible," Howard said last week. "But at the same time, with this, I'm just listening to my body and it will let me know when it's ready."