MILWAUKEE - Marlon Byrd plopped down on a black leather couch in the visitors clubhouse at Miller Park, and Ryan Howard had a question. Howard positioned his hands near his head, pretending to hold a bat, and wondered how soon he should lower his setup before the pitcher throws.
This is an experiment for Howard, inspired by Byrd and encouraged by Ryne Sandberg. It is not the first time Howard has adjusted his swing mechanics; former manager Charlie Manuel often implored Howard to stand closer to the plate, a switch that never stuck because Howard felt uncomfortable.
The first baseman's hands were noticeably lower Monday, when he went 1 for 3 with an RBI. He made the change in the cage earlier that day after a conversation with Byrd, who leads the team with 18 home runs. Byrd - once a ground-ball hitter - resurrected his career with alterations to his swing that produced more fly balls.