CLEARWATER, Fla. – Ryan Howard has started all 14 of the Phillies' games this spring. That includes an intrasquad game and a contest against the Dominican Republic.
On Friday, he will get a day off.
Well, sort of.
Howard will work out in Clearwater while the Phillies send a team down I-75 to play the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte.
Manager Charlie Manuel has been riding Howard hard early in camp.
"If you're going to play 162 games, you've got to get in shape to play 300," Manuel said.
Manuel, of course, was kidding about playing Howard in 162 games. He’ll get days off during the season. But Manuel is serious about having Howard come into the season ready to go, especially after the slugging first baseman missed all of spring training and half of the regular season last year as he recovered from a torn left Achilles tendon.
“I felt like we had to get him in shape,” Manuel said. “He’s getting to where we want him. Hard work never hurt nobody. He’ll be in shape. I’ll monitor him and he’ll get his time off.”
Howard is having a good spring, hitting .364 with three homers and 11 RBIs.
Bullpen competition to heat up
Pitching coach Rich Dubee believes his pupils in the bullpen have had enough time to get loose in side work and games.
Now it’s getting to be time to show something.
“The competition begins here pretty soon,” Dubee said. “They should have enough reps in the bullpen and in games to start locking it.”
Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Adams, Antonio Bastardo and Chad Durbin are assured bullpen jobs. That leaves three spots open. One of those spots seems to have Phillippe Aumont’s name on it. Another will likely go to a lefty such as Jeremy Horst, Jake Diekman or Raul Valdes. A cast that includes Mike Stutes, Aaron Cook, Justin De Fratus and B.J Rosenberg remains in the hunt, as well.
Horst hasn't had positive results in early work, but Dubee hasn’t forgotten the good work (1.15 ERA in 32 games) he did in half a season in the majors last year.
Ruf breaks out
Darin Ruf, who had been searching for hits, had a single, a double and three RBIs in Thursday’s 10-6 loss to the Twins.
“He’s going to be a really good hitter,” Manuel said. “I’ve seen guys struggle before. I don’t worry about that.”
Twins switch-hitter Aaron Hicks improved his chances of being his team’s opening day centerfielder by hitting three home runs off three different Phillies pitchers. The Twins traded two big-league centerfielders this winter. Denard Span went to the Nationals and Ben Revere to the Phillies.
Righthander Tyler Cloyd, who had been bothered by some forearm tightness, threw on the side Thursday.
Here is the Phillies' lineup for Friday’s game against the Rays in Port Charlotte:
Freddy Galvis SS
Kevin Frandsen 2B
Michael Young 3B
Carlos Ruiz C
John Mayberry Jr. 1B
Darin Ruf LF
Domonic Brown RF
Josh Fields DH
Michael Martinez CF
Kyle Kendrick starts for the Phillies again Rays’ lefty David Price, the 2012 American League Cy Young winner.
Adams, Stutes and Cook will also get work for the Phillies.