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Phillies slugger Howard out six to eight weeks

Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard bobbles a ground ball from a Kansas City Royals batter during the first inning of the Philli
Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard bobbles a ground ball from a Kansas City Royals batter during the first inning of the Philli

(Reuters) - Philadelphia Phillies slugger Ryan Howard will have surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee and is expected to miss six to eight weeks, the National League team said on Monday.

Howard was put on the disabled list on Saturday and tests on Monday revealed the tear, further hampering Philadelphia's (43-46) chances of mounting a surge in their chase of the NL East leading Atlanta Braves, who they trailed by 7.5 games.

"We have to take care of it," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "He's going to have to have a procedure. It's just a matter of who does it and when."

First baseman Howard hit .266 with 11 home runs and 43 runs batted in before the injury.

Amaro said he expected rookie Darin Ruf to get most of the playing time at first base while Howard is out.

Three-time All-Star Howard, who also has been complaining of a foot injury, missed the first half of last season after tearing his left Achilles tendon making the final out in the 2011 NL division series.

The Phillies hope the leg injuries are a factor in Howard's offensive decline the past two seasons. Since the Achilles surgery, the 2006 NL most valuable player has hit a combined .244 with 25 home runs and 99 RBIs in 151 games.

(Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Steve Keating)

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