While it's not certain how much time Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard will miss because of a ruptured Achilles tendon, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said his recovery will not stretch too far into the 2012 season.
Speaking at a wide-ranging press conference Tuesday, Amaro said Howard will miss at least four months but couldn't set a firm timetable.
"I don't think it's going to be half the season," Amaro said. "It may compromise part of the season."
He and the Phillies don't know how long Howard will be out mostly because he hasn't had surgery yet. Amaro said Howard, who suffered the injury on the final play of the Phillies' Game 5 loss to St. Louis last week, was scheduled to see a doctor in Baltimore on Tuesday and may seek another opinion.
Amaro said the team wants to get the surgery done as quickly as possible, so Howard can start the rehabilitation process. But the club won't rush Howard into a procedure. The procedure can't be performed before the swelling goes down a certain amount, and Amaro said the team wants Howard to find the right doctor.
Howard's recovery is just one of many questions the Phillies face this offseason. Among the most prominent is whether or not shortstop Jimmy Rollins will return to the team.
Rollins is a free agent and said Tuesday he's after the right combination of money and years in his next contract. He said he is looking for a five-year deal, or at least a deal with a fifth-year player option.
There are a lot of factors that will affect the kind of deal he ends up with, and one of the biggest is age. He will turn 33 years old November 27, and was part of a Phillies lineup that was already among the oldest in the National League this season.
But Rollins said Tuesday that his age wouldn't rule out a five-year deal.
"I'll be 33 by the time I get the contract, which means I still have probably about a good six years left of being able to perform at a high level," Rollins said.
Another factor is that Rollins has spent his entire professional career with the Phillies. They picked him in the second round of the 1996 draft, and he was the team's regular shortstop by 2001. He won an MVP award in 2007, helped Philadelphia to the World Series title the following season, and has been a defensive anchor in the middle of the infield, smoothly and routinely making tough plays.
Amaro said losing Rollins "would be a huge blow for us, but not insurmountable."
Rollins said he wouldn't sign with a team other than the Phillies just for money. He said that if he were to go somewhere else, it will be for money, years and for a chance at a World Series title.
Next year, the Phillies will still have many of the pieces that made them a contender in 2011. Whether or not Rollins will be one of them remains to be seen.