When Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins were traded by the Phillies, they didn’t get to say farewell to the fans.
But the Phillies didn’t want to make the same mistake with Ryan Howard.
The Phillies wanted to honor Howard appropriately in his final game at Citizens Bank Park, and the send-off was so good that many fans thought the first baseman retired.
Howard and his wife, Krystle, would get approached by fans saying: “Great career,” he told Fox Sports.
But, Howard, 37, a former National League Rookie of the Year and MVP, isn’t ready to watch games from the couch just yet. He’s training and waiting for a call from a team that will pick him up from the free-agent market.
“I think I can still go out there and compete and compete at a high level,” Howard told Ken Rosenthal. “I understand that I’m not going to play every single day. With the way that the game has changed, with teams having analytics and all that, I understand all that stuff.”
Howard is coming off of a five-year, $125 million contract, but he said he’s setting no financial expectations.
It's quite obvious that he won't be the old Howard that hit 45-plus home runs four consecutive years, but he did improve after the All-Star break last year, batting .262 with a .932 OPS.
Howard’s best role would be as a DH against right-handed pitching. Last year, he hit 24 homers in 327 plate appearances against right-handers.
Howard said he would be “open” to becoming a DH after spending 13 years as a starting first baseman. It's realistically his only role at this point given his defensive decline.
“I look at it like, ‘Teams are doing what they’re doing. I got it,’” Howard said. “I’m not going to sit here and stress out because that doesn’t do me any good. It’ll happen. And when it does, I’ll be ready.”
To continue playing, Howard may have to sign a non-guaranteed, minor-league deal and earn a job in spring training, like Jimmy Rollins did last year with the White Sox and hopes to do again this season with the Giants.