Howard trying to avoid being distraction

Veteran first baseman benched last week due to struggles

Howard trying to avoid being distraction

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard remains a hot topic of conversation, partly because of his iconic status in franchise history, partly because his role on the team remains uncertain, partly because reporters keep asking about him, and partly because a fan threw a beer bottle at him Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.

Howard said Monday he is trying his best not to become a disturbance in the Phillies' clubhouse.

"I don't want to be a distraction for the other 24 guys in here," he said. "Because to me, it's always been about playing baseball, and that's it. So I have to take care of what I have to take care of, and I don't want to bring any extra burdens on these guys. Because they work hard, I know how hard they work. They don't deserve it."

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin benched Howard last week in favor of Tommy Joseph, who has done well since being given the chance to play every day. Mackanin said Howard will start Tuesday night's game against the Cubs but will make a decision about how he will handle Joseph and Howard going forward "in the near future."

"The whole thing is delicate," Mackanin said. "A lot of it concerns me. I'm sure [Howard is] not happy with the position he's in. I'm not happy about it. We've got to do something at some point, see what happens. It's not a lot of fun."

"It's newsworthy, noteworthy, all of that kind of stuff," Howard said. "As long as you try to make it [that way]. For me, I don't focus on all of that stuff. I understand it's going to be news and people are going to talk about it or whatever, but I'm not trying to put my focus there; I'm trying to put my focus on what I need to do to get back to where I need to be to be able to play and play at a high level."

Howard is still upset that a fan threw an empty bottle at him. The Philadelphia Police Department is investigating the situation, looking at video and photographs of the alleged bottle thrower.

"To do what I've done in this city playing, I don't care how bad somebody thinks I'm playing," he said. "It's uncalled for. You shouldn't do it. You shouldn't do it, period."

Worth noting

• Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera went 4-for-5 Sunday against Milwaukee, but was not in Monday's lineup.

"He's got tight legs and he needs a day off, I think," Mackanin said. "A good time to do it."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.