It seems as if Charlie Manuel’s fears regarding Ryan Howard have been realized. Howard, it seems, has been worn out from eating too much microwaved chicken and mashed potatoes winter banquet circuit and asked the team for a break.
Here’s the blurb from The Sporting News:
If Phillies 1B Ryan Howard starts slowly this season, he'll have an excuse: He couldn't say no during the offseason. After being honored at five banquets in about two weeks, Howard told the club he had hit the wall and needed some time away before heading to spring training in Clearwater, Fla.
Manuel, as most remember, warned the writers about Howard’s popularity during the media-day outing two weeks ago, saying: “I want his time kind of monitored. He’s a professional and he doesn’t mind sitting there and talking. I don’t want to see interviews and stuff like that interfering with his work habits. Because who he is and his demeanor and everything – I’ve said this from Day 1 – if he sticks with exactly what he’s doing right now, that’s exactly where I want to see him stay.”
Fortunately for Manuel and the Phillies, Howard recognized that there was a potential problem and nipped it early. Better yet, Howard and the rest of the gang took off from the chilly northeast and hit Clearwater where the temperatures are supposed to be in the low 70s all week…
Speaking of warm, lefty Fabio Castro tossed a one-hitter through five innings for the Dominican Republic against Puerto Rico in a Caribbean World Series game on Sunday. Castro struck out four and walked three in the 12-0 victory.
A Rule 5 pick for the Texas Rangers last season, Castro, 22, seems likely to make the Phillies as a reliever. Initially, the team was considering sending Castro to the minors to get some work as a starter after spending the past season deep on the bench with the Rangers and Phillies. But since the Phils’ ‘pen is so thin Castro could end up with a significant role – relatively speaking.
Anyway, Castro posted some decent numbers this winter for Gigantes del Cibao (translates to Giants of the Cibao) with 31 strikeouts and a 1.86 ERA in 29 innings. In limited work for the Phillies last season, Castro made 16 relief appearances with a 1.54 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings.
Other (potential) Phillies playing in the Caribbean World Series are Karim Garcia (Mexico) and Randall Simon (Venezuela).
Man… wouldn’t it be nice to be sitting on some Caribbean island right now? Better yet, wouldn’t it be nice to be walking around in, say, Washington, D.C. – it’s supposed to get up to 28 degrees there today.
It was fun to see about six people in Indianapolis line the streets to welcome home the Colts after their Super Bowl victory. It was even funnier to watch Peyton Manning pick out which expensive, environmentally-incorrect car he wanted for free for being the MVP of the game.
The funny part isn’t that Manning got a prize for being the MVP, it’s the idea of giving rich and well-known people things for free. A former hockey player once told me that when he was young and coming up in the NHL, no one ever gave him anything. In fact, no one ever paid any attention to him no matter what he did. But as soon as that former NHLer signed a big contract and got some money and a little bit of fame, he couldn’t pay for anything.
“I have money now and can afford things, but everybody gives me stuff for free,” he said shaking his head.
Meanwhile, Gary Matthews Jr. once told me that his first car was the one his dad received for being the MVP of the NLCS in 1983. That’s kind of cool.