Notes: Howard receives honor

Notes: Howard receives honor

PHILADELPHIA -- In Philadelphia, there's no question about Ryan Howard's impact.

The slugging first baseman, who's 58th homer in the third inning gave the Phillies a 4-0 lead on Friday, was the unanimous winner of the Mike Schmidt Most Valuable Player Award, as announced by the Philadelphia Baseball Writers' Association of America awards.

There wil be a pregame ceremony before Saturday's Phillies-Marlins game. Howard was named on all 26 ballots. The awards also recognized Tom Gordon, Mike Lieberthal and Chris Coste.

"It's nice that people appreciate what you're doing," Howard said. "All the individual accomplishments are great, but it leads up to the team goal, and that's to get into the playoffs."

Should the Phillies get there, Howard may also take home the National League MVP Award.

Howard set a new Phillies' single-season home run record on Aug. 31 when he hit his 49th homer of the season against Washington. He has clubbed nine homers since.

Gordon, who has 32 saves in 36 chances and was an All-Star closer in his first season in Philadelphia, won the Steve Carlton Most Valuable Pitcher Award. Gordon received 22 votes, while Brett Myers and Cole Hamels had two apiece.

Coste, a rookie at age 33 who contributed at catcher, took the Dallas Green Special Achievement Award in a close vote over Howard. Coste was named on 13 ballots, four more than Howard's nine. Chase Utley received three votes for his 35-game hitting streak and Lieberthal received one vote for breaking the franchise record for career games caught.

"He's been an impact player," Howard said of Coste. "My nickname for him is Chris Clutch. From what I saw in Spring Training, I was really not surprised when he came up and started doing what he's been doing."

Lieberthal, won the Tug McGraw Good Guy Award. The veteran has been a stand-up guy and willing team spokesman since arriving in the big leagues in 1994.

Support needed: In a classic battle between fans and struggling players, Jimmy Rollins fired the latest salvo in support of teammate Pat Burrell.

Rollins vented about the fans treatment of the struggling left fielder.

"I'm just being real," Rollins said. "To be booing a player before he does something good or bad is pretty pathetic."

Burrell, who homered on Wednesday, is hitting .196 this month. He went 0-for-3 on Friday, and was booed before, during and after each of his at-bats.

"You go out to left field and they're jumping on you. But if you make a play, and they're like, 'Pat, you're the greatest.' Then you come back again, and before you step into the box, they're booing, especially this time of year, that makes no sense."

Look who's walking: The protective boot has found a home in the trash, and Aaron Rowand said the crutches should follow.

Super sophomores
Most home runs by a second-year player
Ryan Howard
Ralph Kiner
Eddie Mathews
4. (tie)
Joe DiMaggio
4. (tie)
Jim Gentile
Ernie Banks
Chuck Klein
"I may set them on fire in the middle of the clubhouse," Rowand said.

Rowand appeared in the Phillies' clubhouse on Friday without a cast or splint. After an afternoon of strengthening exercises -- underwater exercises in a pool and walking a mile on the treadmill -- he took batting practice.

Looking further down the road, the tough center fielder keeps an eye toward a possible spot on a playoff roster.

"The doctor said the bone looks good," Rowand said. "It's not 100 percent healed yet, but it's close. Hopefully, it progresses enough to where, if the team gets in [the playoffs], I can help out. It's pretty much full go in what I can take pain-wise and go from there."

Rowand broke his left ankle on Aug. 21 when he collided with Utley in shallow center field. If he progresses, Rowand might head to Clearwater, Fla., for some at-bats in Instructional League games.

"It's really just getting my ankle strong again," he said. "Now that I'm off the crutches, I can start doing stuff and progress as fast as I can."

Ah, the playoffs: Should the Phillies make the playoffs for the first time since 1993, assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said the Phillies might not decide on a 25-man roster for the Division Series until 10 a.m. on Wed. Oct. 4, the day their series would begin.

He said the team could carry fewer that 12 pitchers, affording manager Charlie Manuel additional flexibility.

Any player in the Phillies organization by Aug. 31 is eligible for postseason play, in other words everyone not named Randall Simon, though he would be eligible to play in Monday's one-game playoff, if necessary. The roster can be altered between series. Rule 5 Draftee Fabio Castro, doesn't have to be included on any postseason roster.

Talking Fish: Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has plenty of other things to worry about than the status of Marlins manager Joe Girardi, who it is widely rumored will be dismissed after the season.

At the top of that list is beating Girardi's team. After Friday, the Phillies have five games left with the Marlins, including the final three games of the season at Dolphin Stadium. Philadelphia is 8-5 against Florida this season.

"They have hard throwers and guys who go out and play hard," Manuel said. "They're young and full of energy and they play hard. You have to take it to them because they're relaxed and loose. They can do a lot."

Asked whether he was surprised to hear that Girardi, a NL Manager of the Year candidate, likely won't be back, Manuel had no opinion.

"I don't know," Manuel said. "He's done a tremendous job. They have a young team. I've seen improvement out of a lot of their players. That's definitely a credit to him."

Philling in: The Phillies held a team meeting on Friday to discuss logistical issues involving potential playoff scenarios. The fact that they had such a meeting is a good sign. "We need to go out and get it -- that's all," Manuel said. ... Manuel wasn't complaining about Roger Clemens starting on Sunday, rather than in Monday's makeup game at Citizens Bank Park. "That's fine," he said. "I'll go along with that." ... Tim Gradoville, who was brought up earlier this month and didn't appear in a game, was outrighted sent down to triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Coming up: Jon Lieber (8-10, 5.03 ERA) will start Game 2 of the three-game series on Saturday at 1:20 p.m. ET. Brian Moehler (7-9, 6.09 ERA) will go for the Marlins.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.