Phillies Notes: Howard not happy about sitting

Posted: July 26, 2014

Ryne Sandberg deemed a meeting with Ryan Howard necessary after the first-year Phillies manager posted a lineup for the second straight day that reinforced Howard's status as the most expensive platoon player in baseball history. Sandberg explained to his $125 million first baseman why a career .328 hitter against Giants starter Tim Hudson, in 80 plate appearances, was again benched.

Howard was not receptive to the idea. Howard, who answered questions about his new reality for 10 minutes Wednesday, declined to speak Thursday after a 2-1 win over San Francisco.

"Talk to him," Howard said. He pointed toward the manager's office and departed the Phillies clubhouse.

Sandberg, who could start Darin Ruf for the third consecutive game Friday because Arizona's pitcher is lefthander Wade Miley, refused to label Howard's absence "a benching." It was time, he said, for Ruf to collect at-bats. Howard, as expected, shunned a platoon.

"He wants to play, and he wants to be in the lineup, and that's totally understandable," Sandberg said. "So as we go forward and there are some options on some days, then I'll look at those options."

Ruf went 1 for 4.

"Ryan is a great player," Ruf said. "He's going to be counted on to help this team win in the last two months, hopefully. If we can share a role in making that happen - or he becomes the player that he once was and that we know he can be . . . if it's my opportunity, I'll just look forward to proving I can be that guy, too."

Looking ahead

The Phillies will begin and end the 2015 season at Citizens Bank Park, and the schedule is highlighted by trips to both Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium.

Boston will visit Philadelphia on April 6 to begin the season, according to a tentative schedule distributed to all major-league clubs. The two teams will play April 8 and 9 with a built-in day off April 7. The Phillies will travel to Boston for three games Sept. 4-6.

They will make their first trip to Yankee Stadium since 2010 on June 22-24. The interleague schedule includes two-game, home-and-home series vs. Baltimore and Toronto, plus three home July games against Tampa Bay.

The season concludes Oct. 4 with Miami at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies have two 10-game home stands, May 8-17 and Sept. 7-16. Their longest road trip, July 3-12 to Atlanta, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, precedes the all-star break.

Citizens Bank Park will be dormant on Memorial Day and July 4. The Phillies play at home against Atlanta on Labor Day. The busiest month at home is June, with 16 home dates.

Extra bases

Jimmy Rollins, whose hustle double in the first inning led to a run, is two plate appearances from guaranteeing his $11 million option for 2015. Rollins had to reach 1,100 plate appearances over 2013-14 to trigger the clause. . . . The win snapped a five-game losing streak to San Francisco, the Phillies' longest streak against the Giants since 2000.

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