Ryne Sandberg now has the Phillies job on a full-time basis, and one thing he’s looking forward to seeing (snort) is a healthy (giggle) Ryan Howard:
Ryne Sandberg is expecting good things from Howard next season. He just wants him to be healthy and ready to play first.
“Maybe, in some ways, he’ll be disappointed in this season,” Sandberg said. “It all adds up to a year where he’ll be ready to go. It’ll all start right now with the games in Florida along with his workout program the whole winter. Him being healthy will allow him to get into baseball shape. I look for him to come back and be a big guy right in the middle of the lineup. … I know I’ll have a conversation with him about continuing to have a good work ethic and get the training in he needs to this winter.”
Howard has not been healthy each of the past two seasons, so being healthy is the first step. But even when he has been healthy, Howard’s production has taken a dip. Sandberg will stress pregame preparation with the veteran, as he does with other players.
We love Howard. We just don’t know to ever expect sustained good health or production from him ever again. Then again Chase Utley’s knees seemed to make it through this season, so who knows?