Offseason will help Howard rebuild strength in leg

Offseason will help Howard rebuild strength in leg

Offseason will help Howard rebuild strength in leg
NEW YORK -- It has been a strange season for Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard.

He entered Monday's series opener against the Mets hitting .229 with 10 home runs, 46 RBIs, a .308 on-base percentage and a .413 slugging percentage in 61 games. Howard has had just 253 plate appearances this season after opening the year on the disabled list following left Achilles surgery, but his batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage would be career lows.

But his 44 RBIs in 61 games projects to 122 RBIs over a 162-game season.

"To me, this entire year, I didn't really have a lot of expectations for myself," Howard said. "I just wanted to try to come in and just help any way I could. I knew I wasn't going to be 100 percent ... so I just wanted to do what I could by driving in runs.

"My average and all that kind of stuff, it is what it is. I've only had 200 [at-bats]. Not having Spring Training, you don't realize how important that is until you don't have it. You don't really get that opportunity to go out and struggle a little bit and try to find it. Everything counts, and it is what it is."

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. met with Howard before Monday's game. Manuel and Amaro agreed that Howard often puts too much pressure on himself to succeed, but they also think a lack of strength in his left leg following his surgery has affected him offensively.

"I don't think he realizes it -- his back leg is bothering him and he has trouble pushing off it," Manuel said. "When he gets stronger and gets more on it, he feels it. He doesn't use his legs right now hitting the ball."

Howard doesn't disagree. He said the offseason should help him rebuild strength in the leg.

"I think everything will be more natural," Howard said about next season. "Obviously, the biggest thing this year was not being able to be on my regimen as far as the training and conditioning and all that kind of stuff. So just being able to get back into the routine of things and start hitting and getting back on my natural, normal regimen [will be good]."