Howard en­joy­ing show of ap­pre­ci­a­tion

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Jack McCaf­fery jm­c­caf­fery @21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Jack­McCaf­fery on Twit­ter

“I’m just try­ing to en­joy it, try­ing to em­brace ev­ery­thing and take it as is.” — Phillies’ Ryan Howard

PHILADEL­PHIA >> By cir­cum­stances, by fi­nances, by sched­ul­ing, by pro­mo­tion, Ryan Howard was dragged into a week­end of trib­ute. It was his choice how to re­act.

So with two games likely left in his Phillies ca­reer Satur­day, Howard spiced the party, de­liv­er­ing a two-run home run in the fifth in­ning of a 5-3 loss to the New York Mets. For that, and for a ca­reer that may one day result in a ball­park statue, he was given a stand­ing ova­tion from a crowd of 20,225, a cur­tain call and a crowd of TV cam­eras at his locker … even as the Mets were cel­e­brat­ing their just-earned play­off spot a cou­ple of doors away.

“It was cool,” said Howard, whose 25th homer pulled the Phillies even at 2-2. “It was cool. I was able to hit the home run, ty­ing the game up. I tried to spoil it for them to­day a lit­tle bit, but they got us, and you’ve got to con­grat­u­late those guys be­cause they’re scratched and clawed and did what they needed to do. That’s a good ball club.

“I’m just tak­ing the week­end as is.”

The story by now is clear. If the Phillies don’t buy him out for $10 mil­lion af­ter the sea­son, they will be re­quired to pay him $23 mil­lion next sea­son. So the $10 mil­lion it will be, along with an un­of­fi­cial farewell trib­ute be­fore the 3 p.m. Sun­day game against New York.

He has an idea how he will re­act.

“You’re just sup­posed to be you, with your emo­tions and all that kind of stuff,” he said. “I don’t know if ev­ery­body’s ex­pect­ing me to show up and be a cer­tain way. I’m just my­self. Again, with what­ever it brings, I’ll em­brace it and take it and en­joy it.”

Howard’s home run was the 382nd of his ca­reer, ty­ing him with Hall of Famers Jim Rice and Frank Howard for 67th place on the all-time list. He went 2-for-4 Satur­day, but is hit­ting just .199 in a sea­son where he rarely faced left-handed pitch­ing. Still, he in­sists he wants to play some­where next sea­son, when he will be 37.

“He’s swing­ing the bat real well,” Pete Mack­anin said. “He has been for the sec­ond half. To have 25 home runs and al­most 60 RBIs (59), that’s phe­nom­e­nal. He’s done a great job.”

Where he will do that job next sea­son re­mains in ques­tion. But he will show up Sun­day, aware that he is likely to wear a Phillies uni­form for the fi­nal time.

“I’m just try­ing to en­joy it, try­ing to em­brace ev­ery­thing and take it as is,” he said. “I’m not try­ing to look too much into any­thing. Ac­tu­ally, I’m just try­ing to go out there and win these ball­games.

“I think, I’ve said it be­fore: Things will hit you when they hit you.”

••• Af­ter leav­ing the game early Fri­day, Freddy Galvis took Satur­day off with con­tin­ued tight­ness in his ham­string.

“It just feels too tight to run,” the short­stop said be­fore the game. “I was feel­ing it for like a week. The weather the day be­fore was hot, so when I ran be­fore the game it was good. I made my sprint on the bunt and it was re­ally tight. I went to the field and still felt the pain, so I de­cided to come out.”

Galvis spent time with the train­ers Satur­day and hopes to play Sun­day. If not, and if his sea­son is over, it was a suc­cess … so much so that Mack­anin made it of­fi­cial Fri­day: Galvis, who has col­lected 20 home runs and 67 RBIs, is the Phillies’ 2017 short­stop.

“The way he’s played de­fense, he’s estab­lished him­self as our short­stop for next year,” the man­ager said. “He hit 20 homers, drove in ba­si­cally 70 runs. That is a bonus to get that from a de­fender that good. On the other hand, he needs to work on his plate dis­ci­pline. He can be­come a bet­ter hit­ter if he con­cen­trates on sit­u­a­tional hit­ting and two-strike hit­ting, things like that. He can be­come a .280 hit­ter if he fo­cuses on those things. I think he’s ca­pa­ble of do­ing it.

“He’s the most fun player to watch on the team, just a lot of fun to watch.”

Galvis ap­pre­ci­ated that char­ac­ter­i­za­tion.

“It means a lot,” he said. “I al­ways try to play 100 per­cent ev­ery game, ev­ery play. I think they like it when a player goes hard ev­ery sin­gle play.”

For that, Galvis had a me­morable sea­son, whether it ends Sun­day or not.

“I think it was OK,” he said. “I have stuff to work on and I’m go­ing to keep work­ing. Short on starters, Mack­anin or­dered a “bullpen” game Satur­day, start­ing Phil Klein, then us­ing Frank Her­rmann, Pa­trick Schus­ter, David Her­nan­dez, Joely Ro­driguez and Hec­tor Neris.

Klein worked four in­nings, strik­ing out three and al­low­ing one earned run.

“I knew go­ing in I didn’t have the 100 pitches, the usual amount,” Klein said. “I tried to get through as much as I could and then have cer­tain guys out of the bullpen come into the game.” Jerad Eick­hoff (11-14, 3.72 ERA) is sched­uled to face Mets right-han­der Noah Syn­der­gaard (14-9, 2.60) in the fi­nal game of the sea­son at 3:05 Sun­day af­ter­noon.

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