Phillies' Ryan Howard sits with sore knee

The Philadelphia Phillies were without the services of Ryan Howard last night thanks to an old nagging problem.  Howard was held out of the lineup due to a sore knee.  It's a problem that he has battled for much of his career.  Aside from the achilles injury he suffered during the playoffs, Howard's knee has been the biggest hinderance.

Howard has not been the same player since blowing out his achilles in the 2011 postseason on the final out of the Phillies' year.  He came back in 2012 and played just 71 games.  He has already played 71 games this season, so it's a step in the right direction.  However, Howard's balky knees keep him from fully living up to his potential.

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The veteran slugger is hitting .282/.335/.494 with 10 home runs this season.  That might not get him to the All-Star Game, but it's far better production than he has been able to provide in a long time now.  If he could stay healthy and maintain those numbers, a lot of people might get off his back about living up to his contract.

In April of 2010, Howard and the Phillies agreed to a five-year, $125 million deal.  Many have considered the contract an albatross because of Howard's injuries and reduced production since signing the deal.  Injuries may be unavoidable, but Howard's production has certainly decreased over the year.  That, of course, is partially due to the injuries, but it can also be a result of his age.

Howard is expected to be back in the starting lineup tonight against the San Diego Padres.

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