They are all gone, all but him, Cole Hamels in Texas and Chase Utley in Los Angeles and Jimmy Rollins in Chicago, and in a way Howard has been abandoned, the last Phillies star still standing, and barely.
Tuesday night, he did something he used to do 150 or 160 times a summer: Trotted out to first base when the Phillies starters took the field. Now, it’s a rarity. Tuesday was his first start in June.
“It’s different,” he said afterwards, and no kidding. The Phillies, as a whole, can strip down and retool, and there are reasons for their fans to be excited about that process, because right-hander Jerad Eickhoff beat the Chicago Cubs 3-2, another promising performance by another young player.
Howard, though, is afforded no such reboot. His legacy here is tied to teams from the past. He is 36, a shell of what he once was. And he must sit and watch as Rome is rebuilt around him.