Ryne Sandberg says a Ryan Howard return in 2013 'would be counterproductive'

USA TODAY Sports

Sandberg wants Howard to focus on getting in baseball shape for next season.

Philadelphia Philles interim manager Ryne Sandberg believes that Ryan Howard can bounce-back from two injury filled seasons to be a run-producer in the Phillies lineup, but sees no reason for the first baseman to return to Philadelphia before the end of the season.

Sandberg talked with Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer, telling the reporter ""At this point I think it would be counterproductive. I don't know what playing 10, 12, 15 games [would do]."

Howard has been sidelined since July 10 after undergoing knee surgery. The interim manager said that Howard hasn't been the same since tearing his left Achilles in the 2011 playoffs, but expects him to return next season:

"I think he can get to that baseball shape, get trimmed up to a weight that is a playing weight that he can be productive along with having his knee behind him. I think he favored that this year, not really having his leg strength all the time with his batting."

Howard is batting .266/.319/.465 with 11 home runs and 43 RBI over 317 plate appearances. The left-handed hitter, who is due $75 million over the next three seasons, averaged 132 RBI per season from 2006 to 2011.

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