Phillies Notebook: Phillies' Howard gets workout at first base

DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Ryan Howard takes batting practice at the Carpenter Complex.
DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Ryan Howard takes batting practice at the Carpenter Complex.
Posted: February 19, 2014

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Larry Bowa is one of the best fielding infielders in Phillies history. With a tireless work ethic, Bowa made himself into a five-time All-Star, a two-time Gold Glove winner and a shortstop who led the National League in fielding percentage in six seasons.

Bowa was stationed at shortstop late yesterday afternoon on the infield practice field at the Carpenter Complex. But instead of a glove, the former manager and current bench coach and infield drill sergeant was wielding a fungo bat.

Bowa blasted short hops - and other ground balls that simulated low throws - at first base, where Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf were on the receiving end. Howard was getting the brunt of the work, with four or five repetitions to every one or two for Ruf.

"I thought he was looking good," Bowa said afterward of Howard, who has been criticized for his fielding. "His work ethic has been off the charts, really good. He reads what everyone writes. I think he might be on a mission."

To his credit, Howard handled Bowa's hard-hit "throws." He'll likely be getting a lot more practice in the next 6 weeks: yesterday's practice was voluntary.

Howard can use the work. In 2011, his last full and healthy season, Howard made nine errors at first base; among major league first basemen who started at least 100 games, only four made more errors.

Howard had a -2.4 dWAR, a stat used by the sabermetric community to access a player's defense. That number ranked 21st of the 21 MLB first baseman with at least 100 starts in 2011.

"I think there's room for improvement for everybody but I think he does a good job, to be honest with you," Bowa said. "He needs to use his legs a little bit more, which he's doing [in camp]. He has good hands - he just needs to work on using his legs, get down there, get through the ball. I think he's going to be fine."

Bowa said Howard's leg injuries have obviously hindered his ability in the field in the last two seasons.

"If you can't use your legs . . . it's hard to play this game when you're healthy," Bowa said. "When you're playing on one leg, it's almost impossible."

Pettibone update

Righthander Jonathan Pettibone was shut down from throwing Sunday after experiencing tightness in his throwing shoulder. Yesterday, he received a cortisone shot and won't throw again for at least 5 days.

"I look at this as a setback, so odds are he'll be a little bit behind," manager Ryne Sandberg said

Pettibone, 23, was 5-4 with a 4.04 ERA in 18 starts as a rookie last season but missed the final 2 months while dealing with a right shoulder strain. He experienced the pain again in the last week after throwing four or five bullpen sessions since the end of January.

The Phillies do not have an MRI scheduled.

"We'll see how he bounces back," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.

Pettibone could throw again this weekend.

A's claim Savery

Former first-round pick Joe Savery was claimed on outright waivers by the Oakland Athletics.

Savery, 28, was designated for assignment on Sunday to make room on the 40-man roster for starting pitcher A.J. Burnett. Savery was 3-2 with a 4.15 ERA in 41 games with the Phils in the last three seasons.

Savery was the Phillies' selection with the 19th overall pick in the 2007 draft. He was also the third player selected in the first round that year who was in camp with the Phillies: Phillippe Aumont (Mariners, 11th overall) and Ben Revere (Twins, 28th).

Three other NL East All-Stars were chosen in the second round of the 2007 draft: Washington Nationals starter Jordan Zimmerann (67th overall), Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton (76th) and Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman (78th).

Burnett throws

While the rest of the pitchers in camp enjoyed a recovery day from pitching, A.J. Burnett threw his first bullpen session since arriving in Clearwater.

Burnett, 37, who signed a 1-year, $16 million deal on Sunday, had been working out at home in Maryland. New pitching coach Bob McClure was pleased with what he saw in Burnett's side session.

"Very good; very good," McClure said. "[He was] on both sides of the plate, down in the zone, free and easy. The ball had life to it. He looked real good."

Phillers

Infielders Cesar Hernandez and Ronny Cedeno arrived in Clearwater yesterday, the day all position players were required to report to camp; the team's first full-squad workout will be held today. The Phillies have 58 players in camp, including 18 nonroster invitees . . . Ryne Sandberg said B.J. Rosenberg, who enters camp competing for a bullpen job, could be stretched out this spring to add depth as a possible starter or long man in the bullpen. Rosenberg had a 4.58 ERA in 22 relief appearances with the Phillies last season, but started six games for Sandberg at Triple A Lehigh Valley in 2012 . . . The Phillies will hold an intrasquad game a week from today at Bright House Field at 1:05 p.m. Admission is free. They open Grapefruit League play the next day against the Toronto Blue Jays in Clearwater.


On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

Blog: ph.ly/HighCheese

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