It's also unlikely Howard makes the jumps for extended spring training to Triple-A to the Braves roster by the time Atlanta first arrives at Citizens Bank Park two weeks from tomorrow.
Despite the fact that hewas working hard in the offseason, Ryan Howard had yet to latch on with an Major League Baseball team by the time Opening Day rolled around. Howard, a former fifth-round draft pick, finished top-10 in the National League MVP voting in six consecutive seasons, winning the award in 2006 and, two years later, helping the Phillies to their World Series title since 1980.
The 37-year old Howard saw the Phillies decline to pick up the option year on his contract and became a free agent at the end of last season. During his career, Howard has 52 home runs and 155 RBI against the Braves, with a slash line of.280/.362/.573 in 183 games against Atlanta.
The best guess at a possible Ryan Howard homecoming? The Braves can certainly use the once heralded slugger as a designated hitter for interleague matchups with their American League counterparts as well.
Gwinnett does not visit the Phillies triple-A affiliate the Lehigh Valley IronPigs until July 17-19.
From the Braves' standpoint, Howard provides a hedge against a Freddie Freeman injury. Howard is likely to be in the major leagues or released by then.