Phillies Notebook: Ryan Howard in slow motion

Posted: April 16, 2013

MIAMI - Ryan Howard led off the sixth inning Sunday by ripping a pitch into leftfield for a double. He slid safely into second, but wasn't exactly moving quickly.

Howard is 18 months removed from surgery on his left Achilles'. His foot speed was close to nonexistent last summer and there have been a few times in the first 2 weeks of the 2013 season when he's appeared to limp or slow up on the basepaths.

"There's nothing wrong with my feet," Howard said Sunday.

Four pitches after arriving on second base, Howard found himself back in motion with another 180-foot trip. He scored the first run of a 2-1 win over the Marlins when Michael Young hit a single to center. Once again, Howard didn't look especially fast.

"It's still coming back; I have my moments," Howard said of running on a surgically repaired leg. "It's just the game itself. Some days your legs are going to be heavier. I think throughout the series my legs felt pretty good. Today was one of the days they were a little heavier."

Sunday was a day game following a night game, often reserved for backup catchers for that very reason. Humberto Quintero played in place of Erik Kratz, and Jimmy Rollins wasn't in the starting lineup, either.

Howard got an early exit a night earlier, when manager Charlie Manuel pinch-ran for the first baseman in a tie game in the eighth inning. It was a move Manuel has rarely made in Howard's 10-year career.

"He's running OK," Manuel said. "I mean, he can get around the bases. But when you get in a situation like that, we have a chance to win the game and we needed one run. But I don't like doing it because if we don't score, then we're taking him out of the lineup and he's always capable of hitting the ball out of the yard. That's the downside. You have to make your mind up."

John Mayberry Jr. pinch-ran for Howard on Saturday night. But after Domonic Brown and Kevin Frandsen were retired in succession, Mayberry was left stranded at second. It was one of 27 runners the Phillies left on base in the three-game series in Miami. The Phillies went 6-for-30 (.200) with runners in scoring position in the series.

"We had situations . . . we just have to do a better job of getting those runs home," said Howard, who went 3-for-4 on Sunday. "It's not like we're not hitting the ball - we just need timelier hits. We got ourselves in situations with runners in scoring position and two outs and we've have to get those hits."

Although there weren't any outs at the time, Young knocked Howard in from second in the sixth inning on Sunday.

"Hopefully that gets the momentum going," Howard said.

Howard went 6-for-12 with four doubles, one walk and one strikeout in Miami.

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