“We need to get him back to where he was hitting like he was two or three years ago,” manager Charlie Manuel said about his cleanup hitter.
Coming back from left Achilles' surgery in 2012, Howard hit just .219 in 71 games and struck out more (once every 2.9 plate appearances) and homered less (once every 18.6 plate appearances) than in any of his eight seasons.
He noticeably limped at times and wasn’t able to finish his powerful lefty swing properly because of a lack of strength in his left foot. All in all, with the Phillies out of contention by the All-Star break, this wasn’t the best start to his five-year, $125 million contract extension.
But this is spring training and the Phillies have hope that Howard will return to pre-surgery form.