Howard tunes up for return to Phillies
May 23, 2007
LAKEWOOD, N.J. (AP) -- Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard hit a game-winning home run and went 2-for-3 with four RBIs in a rehab start Wednesday at Class A Lakewood.
The game, a 7-4 win over the Hagerstown Suns, was Howard's first since May 9. The National League's 2006 Most Valuable Player is preparing to come off the disabled list for a strained left quadriceps.
"It feels great," Howard said. "I'm running. I don't feel anything. I don't feel any knots, or catching or anything like that."
The left-handed hitter, who is scheduled to play first base for Lakewood in a final tuneup Thursday, plans to rejoin the Phillies on Friday in Atlanta.
"I won't try to push myself to do too much too fast, or anything like that," Howard said. "Go out like I did today and try to have good at-bats and get my timing together."
Phillies general manager Pat Gillick, who was on hand for Howard's game along with club president Dave Montgomery, liked what he saw.
"We look for him to come back, hopefully Friday, and be in the lineup," Gillick said. "But we'll just have to see what we get because he hadn't faced any game situations until today."
With the score tied 3-3 in the seventh, Howard came up with runners on first and third and one out. After falling into an 0-2 hole against right-hander Chris Lugo, Howard worked the count to 2-2 before driving a fastball over the left-centerfield fence.
Howard walked in his first at-bat, then split the right-centerfield gap for an RBI double in the third. He struck out in the fifth.
"He looked like he was moving around all right, looks like he's got good mobility," Gillick said. "He's moving well. It doesn't look like there's any restriction there."