Ryan Howard ruptured his Achilles tendon on the final at-bat of the 2011 NL Division Series, requiring surgery and causing the Philadelphia Phillies first baseman to miss the first half of last season.

But in some ways, he feels more fortunate than David Ortiz.

In the eight months since Ortiz suffered a mild tear of his right Achilles, he has encountered multiple setbacks, including inflammation in both heels that will prevent him from starting the season on time. Along the way, the Red Sox slugger has contacted several athletes who have dealt with similar injuries, including retired NBA star Shaquille O’Neal and Howard.

“I told him, ‘Take your time,’ ” Howard said yesterday before the Phillies faced the Red Sox. “I know it sucks, but it’s one of those injuries where it’s tricky. It takes a little bit longer than you would like. The first thing I said is, ‘Stay positive.’ ”

Howard noted one important distinction between his rehabilitation and the protracted process being faced by Ortiz. Because Howard underwent surgery, his Achilles was repaired. As Ortiz attempts to come back, he’s also trying not to avoid making his injury worse.

“I don’t know what might be tougher,” Howard said. “Mine hit that end point and, boom. But it was fixed, and now it’s rehabbed and it’s better. His is more of a continuous process. It’s like that continuous nagging to where you don’t know if it’s going to get worse. You’ve got to take your time.”

For Howard, progress was slow and incremental. At first, he wore a walking boot, later advancing to a modified shoe. For a while, he kept pads in his shoes to ease the pounding when he tried to run. Then, finally, he was able to go back to normal.