Manager Ryne Sandberg said in February that he was impressed with Howard and his slimmer body. The first baseman finished 2 for 2 and made a nice play on a ground ball towards the hole in Tuesday's spring game against the Yankees.
"Getting into game situations now where you've got to put the crowd in effect and everything, picking up balls, that kind of stuff, reaction time, it felt pretty good," Howard said after the game.
Howard has worked with Charlie Manuel on his hitting and approach, and the results have helped the first baseman boost his confidence.
"It's definitely a great feeling," Howard said. "I'm confident in my ability, now it's getting the reps, getting the work in the game type situation and putting it all together."
Howard has struggled at the plate in recent years and hit just .223/.310/.380 with 23 home runs and 95 RBI in 569 at-bats.
Howard has spent time working with Charlie Manuel during camp. Manuel was brought in as spring training hitting instructor. Manager Ryan Sandberg has noticed the change in Howard's approach already. "As far as making some adjustments there, to really zone in to something that can really be productive for him and a little bit more consistent," Sandberg said. "I think there has been a little tweaking going on there."
Howard apparently has looked different at the plate. His stance has been described as "looser" and his hands are much lower when he starts his swing.
The 35-year-old hit .223/.310/.380 over 569 at-bats last year.
"Ryno looks like, his body looks like right now, he's going to allow himself to be more productive," Sandberg said. "Just running the bases he looks better, a much better chance of scoring from second base. Much better getting to the cutoff spots playing first base. There should be more range there with the way that he looks from the waist down."
Howard has declined to talk to reporters since arriving for camp Monday. Some feel he could be playing with a chip on his shoulder after an interesting offseason, which included settling a nasty legal battle with his family, dealing with trade rumors and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. saying the Phillies would be better off without him.
"He doesn't act like he has a chip on his shoulder," Sandberg said. "He acts like he's a teammate here and he's a veteran guy helping the young players. So I like the attitude and the fact that he's getting after it and doing extra work with Charlie [Manuel], but with [Larry] Bowa in the mornings and sometimes afterwards on the defensive side of things. That'll go a long way with getting the most out of Ryno, really getting back to the ability and where he needs to be on the field."
It hasn't been a secret the
Despite facing some criticism from Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., manager Ryne Sandberg believes Howard can help the team in 2015, per MLB.com.
"It's a new season, a fresh year for him," Sandberg said. "I had a good talk with him about working on his complete game, defensively, running and getting all that in, and I think that will help him with his whole game as well as his offense. It's not about working on one thing and being one dimensional, it's about working on his whole game. And so with the way that he looks, it should be a good camp for him."
Sandberg added he doesn't believe the speculation about Howard's future will affect the veteran first baseman.
"He's a professional and like everyone," Sandberg said. "He's in camp to get ready for a season, get in the best shape possible and get ready to go to help us win. Whatever else happens is on the business side of things and there's nothing you can do about that."
Early in the offseason, Amaro told reporters that the team would be better off without Howard moving forward. Once camp started, however, Amaro reversed course. "Frankly, I apologized for those comments that I made that were public," Amaro said. "And I think he appreciated that."
Amaro went out of his way to stress that Howard has always been a positive force with the club, and has never been a distraction. "This is a guy who’s always been a very positive person," he said." Great teammate. Good person for the younger players to be around."
The 35-year-old Howard hit .223/.310/.380 over 569 at-bats last year. He's set to make $25 million in 2015.
|CBSSports.com Player Ranking|
|9/28/2014 vs Atlanta|
|vs Russell (Career)||2||1||1||2.000||.667||.500|
|Last 7 Games|
|Complete Game Log|
| 5 || 6 |
| 7 || 8 |
| 9 |
| 10 |
| 12 |
| 13 |
| 14 |
| 15 |
| 16 |
| 17 |
|More Batting Stats|
|Postseason Batting Stats|
|Minor League Batting Stats|
|2012||AAA-Lehigh Valley IronPi||4||12||1||5||1||0||1||6||2||1||0||0||.500||.750||.417|
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