Sorry I don’t have video of either Maikel Franco’s 3 run homer in the 2nd, or Cedric Hunter’s walk-off 3 run homer in the bottom of the 9th. So for the sake of putting something positive in, here’s a YouTube video of the Phanatic with the U. of Tampa Dance Team from last Sunday.
That fun clip will allow me to feel less guilty about posting the fact that Ryan Howard is officially struggling. The experiment in Spring Training was supposed to see if Howard was able to hit left-handed pitchers. Turns out he not only can’t do that, but it looks now like his bat speed has slowed sufficiently that he can’t hit right-handers either.
The Phils were facing a pitcher today who struggled to get anything over the plate. After two walks and Franco’s bomb on a 3-1, Howard came up and promptly swung and missed at three straight pitches. Manager Mackanin took him aside, and mercifully put another left-handed batter, Brosk Stassi, into play first the next inning. Of course, after his hot performance yesterday against right-handed Yankee pitchers in Tampa, Darrin Ruf shouldn’t gotten the start at first base today. What a waste this is trotting Howard out there when this year should be about giving a legitimate shot to hitters like Ruf. So at the very least if Pete wants to take a look at Stassi while the kid is in camp, let’s use Spring Training to get Ruf some ABs vs. RHP to find out if he can learn to handle them.
By the way, when Howard made his exit through the Hooters’ Diamond Dugout – thinking he’s still a star and too big a deal to walk the normal route down the left field line – not a single fan even looked at him, yet alone asked him for an autograph. How the mighty have fallen, and the only thing that likely keeps Howard going is living up to his $25 million contract. And I don’t blame him, because he’s trying his best. It’s just an unfortunate byproduct of an aging ballplayer with visibly slower bat speed than last year who isn’t willing to leave that kind of money on the table. But the Phils should seriously consider buying him out now to ease the pain of watching him.