The Big Piece Speaks

howard 0217 2011.jpg

Phillies position players officially report to camp today, and before the morning workout Ryan Howard talked to reporters for roughly 10 minutes.

Here are the highlights:

Q: How is your ankle?
A: Ankle is good. Ankle is really good. I’m pretty much like 98 percent. There’s a little bit of tightness, a lit bit of soreness every once in a while. But it’s good to go.

Q: What percent was the ankle during the postseason?
A: That doesn’t really matter anymore now. We’re here. I’m not going to make any excuses about my ankle or anything like that. Was it 100 percent? No. But to me that doesn’t matter. I just go out there and try to do the best I can and don’t make excuses.

Q: How much did the ankle impact you once came back from the DL?
A: I don’t know how much impact it really did or really didn’t have. Like I said, I was out there. I’m trying to play. I’m trying to give it my all, whether my ankle is 100 percent or not. If I’m out there I’m going to try to do the best I can.

Q: How did you rehab?
A: Just got some work done. Pretty much massage, just kind of get the swelling out. Just continue to ice and do normal type of recovery stuff.

Q: Are you able to do your normal routine this spring?
A: I’m doing everything. My offseason training, I was able to do everything. Everything is pretty much good with my ankle. It’s probably just a little bit of tightness here and there.

Q: You seemed incredibly disappointed after that last game. How long did it take you to get over it?
A: I guess when you make the last out you probably would be pretty disappointed. It took me a little while to let it go. I had a sick feeling in my stomach. I was really excited and raring to go to get back here this year to get started.

Q: Do you still think it was a ball?
A: It doesn’t matter.

Q: Did you watch tape of it?
A: I didn’t watch it. I don’t really care to see it because I can’t go back and change it. I’m focused on this year.

Q: Did you get down here early again to work with infield instructor Sam Perlozzo?
A: I got down here right after the beginning of the year, tried to work with Sam as much as we could. Some of the weather was kind of iffy here and there, some rain and stuff, but being here in camp you’re definitely going to get the work in.

Q: Did you work with Barry Bonds at all? Do you plan on it?
A: No, I didn’t work with him at all this offseason. I just kind of stayed put, layed low for the most part. I was up in Philly for a while. Just pretty much between Philly and here, and St. Louis for the holidays.

Q: Did you talk to Albert Pujols?
A: No, I haven’t talked to him. I mean, I kind of see what’s been going on. They’ve got their situation. I think he’s handled it pretty professionally.

Q: Have you paid attention to his situation?
A: How can you not pay attention to it? It’s on TV every other second and then I have to answer questions about it.

Q: Are you happy you got your extension so you don’t have to deal with it?
A: It’s definitely cool to have it done last year and get it out the way. For Albert it will be the same way. This is what happens. This is the negotiation process. You have two sides. One side wants one thing. One said wants another. That’s why you negotiate. Hopefully you come to the middle and come to an agreement.

Q: Do you think there’s a chance this team is known as an offensive team and not a pitching team at the end of the season?
A: I think we’ve been known for our offense for a while. I think they both go hand in hand. You’ve got to go out, you’ve got to stop the opposition. You’ve got to put runs up. A lot of people are talking about the offense from last year, but at the same time we won 97 games. Somehow we must have been doing something. I guess a lot of people expect us to go out and put up 10 runs. All you need is one, if that’s what it takes.

Q: Your strikeouts were down compared to seasons past. Was that a philosophical change at the plate? Is that something you’d like to continue?
A: Yeah, obviously you don’t go up there trying to strike out. But for me, yeah, I really didn’t change my approach too much. It’s just going up there, just being a little more patient. That’s pretty much it.

Q: Think there’s any correlation with the strikeouts and power numbers being down?
A: It’s funny to me because everybody talks about my power numbers from last year. Oh, Ryan, you’re power numbers were down. I think everybody forgot that I was out for a month. That I was hurt and pretty much down for a month because I was right there with everybody on the leaderboard in home runs and RBIs. As far as that stuff, I don’t really think that was an issue. I got hurt.

Q: You said in the postseason why balls weren’t going out last year …
A: I probably hit the most balls I’ve ever hit that knuckled for some reason. I just wasn’t getting the backspin. I would square balls up, and the balls would knuckle.

Q: Is that something you can work on?
A: I don’t know. Once you hit the ball you can’t control what happens after that.

Q: Anything you’re working on with your swing?
A: I’ve been working on it. Just trying to get consistent. I really feel last year, even though the strikeouts and everything were down, I felt like my stance was inconsistent. Just finding a good starting point again. Just getting back to where I’m consistent.

Q: Charlie Manuel talked last year about standing closer to the plate?
A: We’re negotiating getting closer to the plate. Right now it’s all about just getting the feel right. I’ve been hitting closer to the plate the entire offseason.


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I would prefer 45/145 with 180 SO’s over 30/110 with 130 SO’s. It doesn’t matter how a guy like Howard makes his outs. The Phillies need his power.

phan: Why doesn’t it matter how Howard (or any player, for that matter) makes his outs? Last year, he hit .222 ( with zero SF) with a runner on third base.
Strikeouts don’t advance runners and don’t score them from third with less than two outs.
It is possible for him to achieve 45/145 AND 130 K’s. Dream big.

Howard is paid the big bucks to smack the ball out of the ballpark. I did like his explanation for why his #s were down last season. April 1st can’t come soon enough!

muleman, even with the least amount of SO’s in his career, guess how many SF’s Ryan Howard had last season?
Done guessing? Try 3. He has 30 in his career. Ryan Howard is not a move-along-the-runner type hitter. They need him hitting it out of the park, not trying to beat the shift with weak singles to left. If that means a few more SO’s, so be it because it’ll mean a lot more runs. That’s why he’s paid the big bucks.

phan: Don’t you think I looked that up? That’s why I said that the kind of outs he makes matters. What are sacrifice fly balls? Big fly balls that don’t quite make it over the fence. Isn’t that better than a strikeout? That’s why the type of outs matter.

Ben Zobrist led the AL and David Wright led the NL in SFs with 12 each in 2010. In 2009, Benjie Molina led the NL with 11 and Nick Markakis led the AL with 10. So maybe it’s an art form like bunting or the complete game? Whatever, I’d rather see Howard with 8 more SFs and 10 fewer strikeouts.

I’m not talking about moving the runner along by hitting it to the opposite field, I’m talking about doing what he does – hit the ball a long way.

Muleman: If Howard has 45/145 and 130Ks, then his production somewhere else will be down. He netted that much with -more- strikeouts than last year. If he gets more sac flies and fewer Ks, while still getting about the same production, it means either his BA will be lower, or he’ll hit fewer homers. Either way, not exactly what I want from the “pure power hitter.”

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