Howard enjoying show of appreciation
“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.