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Jack McCaffery is the lead sports columnist for the Daily Times and He has spent several decades covering everything from the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers, to college hoops, to high school sports in Delco.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Too soon to clean out Howard

The Phillies have lost three of their last four, including a 9-3 beat-down Monday in Boston.

And Charlie Manuel is not --- not, repeat not, is not, will not, shall not, won't --- change cleanup hitters.

Here's why: He knows that the Phillies can salvage this season only if Ryan Howard starts hitting. And if he starts hitting, he might as well be in the four-hole.

Benching him, or even moving him down in the order, won't help ... at least yet. Later, maybe. Maybe. But not in May.

Once more, with feeling: Either Howard hits or the Phillies fail. It's the only card the manager has left, and darn it, he is going to snap it down on the table.

“When I think of Howard, he is kind of different from all those other hitters,” Manuel said. “On nights when he is hitting the ball, he stands a good chance of knocking in runs. I don't really think moving him in the lineup makes a whole lot of difference, really. I think how he is hitting on that day is how he is hitting. Some days, he has bad days. Other days, he is doing good. I don't think moving him would help. If anything, I don't particularly like sending him a message. I don't think it's the time of his career for me to send him a message.”
Howard went 2-for-4 Monday and rattled a double high off the Green Monster --- that, despite achy 33-year-old knees.
For the Phillies, it was as close as anything to an encouraging development in a season with far too few.
Check out my column from Fenway Park in the Daily Times Tuesday and, as always, on


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