By Sam Bush
We’re now in the final month of the 2016 season — and Ryan Howard’s career with the Phillies.
And the once-great slugger is pissed off about Phillies’ manager Pete Mackanin’s decision to go with Tommy Joseph at first and sit his 36-year old self.
“You’re talking about an evaluation process of where you’ve gotten to see players this year play. And you’ll have another opportunity to see those same players play again next year and I won’t be here,” Howard told Inky columnist Bob Ford before last night’s game against the Nationals. “So, for me, I just want to play. I don’t necessarily think it’s right or fair, considering this is my last month here, but it is interesting.”
Howard previously cleared waivers, but apparently no playoff-bound team stepped forward to deal for the bench pop he might provide, even though the Phillies would have been willing to absorb all or almost all of the financial risk involved.
Howard’s .196 average this season didn’t help his marketability – but he is one of the greatest players in Phillies history, and he doesn’t like Mackanin’s recent decision, or how it was relayed.
“The manager shouldn’t have to answer the question in the media. I think that’s something that you talk to your players about. That’s one thing. Having to answer that question as far as the evaluation process, for me it’s tough. I’m not going to sit here and lie. I’ve got one more month here and I just want to play and finish out playing,” Howard said. “So, it’s like I’m just trying to do my time, finish out this last month, and try to keep playing somewhere else.”
Mackanin said he intended to start using Joseph more during a pregame media session Tuesday.
“I think it makes sense to see Joseph as much as possible,” Mackanin said. “I don’t want to happen to him what happened to [Darin] Ruf, where he didn’t have opportunities to get at-bats.
“I never said Howard was not going to play,” Mackanin said. “I said that Joseph was going to get as many at-bats against righthanders as I see fit. I’m going to pick my spots where he gets enough at-bats against righthanded pitchers, but at the same time Howard is going to play a lot. He’s going to play. Howard’s going to get plenty of at-bats the rest of the way, but he’s not going to face every righthander. It’s important to see Joseph. If Howie’s not going to be here next year, [Joseph] is at the top of the list right now.”