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Ryan Howard not batting cleanup for first time since 2008

By Mike Axisa | Baseball Writer

Ryan Howard, number five hitter.
Ryan Howard, number five hitter. (USATSI)

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Ever since his mammoth 58-homer, MVP-winning season in 2006, Ryan Howard has been entrenched as the Phillies' cleanup hitter. Even as his game has slipped over the years, particularly against lefties, he has remained the team's No. 4 hitter when healthy.

That appears to be changing. On Tuesday, rookie skipper Ryne Sandberg has Howard hitting fifth in the starting lineup, instead using Marlon Byrd at cleanup to break up the lefty hitting Howard and Chase Utley.

It's the first time Howard is not starting as the cleanup hitter since June 29, 2008. He batted fifth that day, behind Pat Burrell. Howard's last 665 regular season starts have come batting fourth.

Like I said, he's been entrenched. It's time for a change though, especially with the Phillies scheduled to face a left-handed starter (Martin Perez) tonight.

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