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Phils Improve By Playing Yankees To A Tie, Howard Speaks

The Phillies played the Yankees to a 5-all tie in nine innings at Bright House field this afternoon. The Yankees battled back from down 5-1 in the 9th, assisted by Aaron Judge’s three-run homer. A valiant effort was made by left-fielder Aaron Altherr, where Judge’s smash sailed just beyond his outstretched glove against the outfield wall.  The Phils fall to 0-1 in Grapefruit League play and face the Yankees again tomorrow in Tampa at Steinbrenner field.

Ryan Howard had two hits in his 2015 spring debut, driving in a run in the fourth inning. After the game, as recapped by Ryan Lawrence, Howard addressed the media answering myriad topics including his new batting stance and health:

On his stance:

Q: Your stance is pretty closed now – is there a comfort level with it already?

Howard: You mean standing taller a little bit? Yeah, yeah. I was working on that this offseason, so yeah, it definitely feels more comfortable. How does it look? Look good? That works.

Q: Who recommended standing more erect?

Howard: (I) just looked at some old video and stuff. Some in ’06 I was way down, and then it looked like I suddenly began creeping up over the years. So just video over the years, finding what was comfortable.

Health: 

Q: Your legs have been through a lot, but you look to be running well. Best they’ve felt in last 4-5 years?

Howard: They feel good, they feel good. Obviously you guys have watched camp, we’ve had a pretty busy workload. For them to be able to withstand the kind of workload that we’re doing right now, it’s a good sign.

Q: How did you feel at first base?

Howard: It felt good. Getting into game situations now where you’ve got to put the crowd in effect and everything, picking up balls, that kind of stuff, reaction time, it felt pretty good.

2015 Expectations 

Q: What are the expectations after talking to Amaro, Sandberg?

Howard: Our expectations are to go out and try to win baseball games. That’s the goal. The goal has never changed. The goal is to go out there and try to win. I think everyone in this clubhouse is here for that reason and that reason alone. Like I said before, everything that happened in the past is in the past. We’re all moving forward. The media is moving forward, we’re all moving forward. 

Q: Ruben and Ryno said 1st base is yours but there could be competition?

Howard: It is what it is, man. I’m going out here trying to prepare myself for the season. I’m going to use these games to get ready and do what I need to do. If people want to look at it as competition or whatever it is, that’s fine. That doesn’t affect me. My thing is taking care of my business in front of these white lines.

 Per Lawrence, Howard set ground rules with the media to only discuss topics pertaining to today’s game. The full transcript of the media scrum obviously skews from those rules. As Lawrence points out, Howard most certainly wouldn’t discuss any off his offseason legal issues with his family or Amaro’s now infamous “we are better off without him” comment.

Howard took he optimistic high road in regard to his offseason conditioning regiment, where he admitted to shredding 15-20 pounds. He cited his weight loss as giving him more confidence his ability to perform in “game type” situations. When prompted if he had something to prove this season, an allusion to his statistical unproficient seasons as compared to the playoff Phillies, Howard said “I’m just here to play ball.”

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