With the Philadelphia Phillies in full rebuild mode, they’re likely counting down the minutes until Ryan Howard — and his enormous contract — are finally off the payroll.
That, of course, won’t happen until after the 2016 season. The 36-year-old first baseman is owed $25 million this season with a $10 million buyout for 2017.
On top of all that money is the fact his performance has been very subpar, especially against lefties. Last season, he slashed .130/.178/.240 when facing southpaws, obviously a concern for manager Pete Mackanin.
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In an interview with MLB.com, the skipper said he won’t hesitate to bench Howard and shift him into a platoon role.
"It’s kind of a hairy situation right now," Mackanin said. "I’m going to have a discussion with Ryan. I’m going to tell him, ‘If you want to face lefties, you’ve got to hit them better. If you don’t hit them better, I’m going to platoon.’ It’s gotten to that point.
"It’s hard for me to justify not playing a guy [Darin Ruf] who led in OPS in the Majors against left-handed pitchers."
Ruf, 29, hit .235/.300/.414 overall in 2015, but batted an incredible .371/.447/.660 in 97 at-bats against lefties.
Driving the point home even further, Mackanin said that starting jobs are a fluid situation.
"Position-wise … there’s always competition," he said. "You audition every day of your career. You’ve got to produce. And these guys are going to have to compete to win jobs."