There’s always the question of whether spring training success will carry into the early stages of the regular season.
For Ryan Howard, his torrid spring has yet to translate.
In Sunday’s 9-8 loss to the Royals (see story), the Phillies’ first baseman went 1 for 5 with three strikeouts. In the club’s first six games of 2013, Howard is 4 for 24 (.167) and has struck out eight times.
“I think a lot of guys come out sometimes and you play two or three games, and if they haven’t hit a home run or they don’t have too many hits, I think all of a sudden you start trying too hard,” manager Charlie Manuel said, referencing Howard, who has yet to homer.
Howard’s early woes are particularly glaring considering he posted a .322 average, seven home runs and 16 RBIs in 87 at-bats this spring. The Phillies’ slugger looked like the Howard of old after missing the first three months of 2012 with an Achilles injury.
His lone hit on Sunday came when it mattered most. He laced a single to left-center to keep the Phillies alive in their final at-bats and scored his first run of the season in the failed ninth-inning rally (see story).
“I think he put together a good at-bat there in the ninth inning,” Manuel said. “I think he’ll be fine.”
Is it possible, at times, that the Phillies' offense is pressing?
"I don't know," Michael Young said. "For a while, we were getting guys on base and not getting the big blow. But that's all right. Those things come around. I think the biggest thing is making sure we get guys out there. You get guys out there, eventually you're going to bring them in.
"It's a very veteran offense. We've all been in these situations before."
And their veteran manager understands the ups and downs of a long baseball season. He’s even seeing it now in his club’s 2-4 start.
“What you see is baseball,” he said. “If anything, we might be wanting it too bad. That’s just the way it goes sometimes."