Ryan Howard kicked off his minor league rehab assignment last night with Class A Lakewood. He went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles, three RBI and a sacrifice fly while serving as the designated hitter.
Both hits were singles to the right of second base, the second of which he beat out for an infield hit. Howard’s baserunning appears to be a work in progress, but he had plenty of chances to test his surgically-repaired Achilles. He just missed a home run with his sacrifice fly in the ninth. All in all, a good day.
The assumption was that Howard would DH for a couple more games before playing the field, but he’s actually scheduled to play first base today. The 32-year-old slugger figures to need most of his 20-day rehab window to get into game-shape and get his timing down at the plate, but things are looking up for the Fightins.
CSNPhilly.com has video of Howard’s at-bats and some post-game comments:
In something of a surprising move, the Chicago Cubs fired their pitching coach, Chris Bosio on Saturday. Bosio had held the job since the 2011-12 offseason.
The Cubs made the NLCS this year, but were nowhere as near the formidable as their 2016 World Series champion iteration. While there were several reasons for that, one was that the pitching staff, which featured multiple, better-than-expected performances in 2016, but took a step back in 2017. Some of that was personnel — Joe Maddon did not have Aroldis Chapman to call on in the postseason like he did last year — and a lot of that was mere regression from veterans like Jon Lester and John Lackey. A lot of it had to do with a much higher walk rate this year than in the past.
Still, there was no chatter during the season or at the time of the Cubs’ playoff exit the other day that Bosio might be a fall guy. The Chicago Tribune reports that it was Joe Maddon’s call and that he had grown displeased with Bosio. The Tribune report suggests that Cubs pitchers will be displeased with the move as they were devoted to Bosio. Coaches, of course, come and go, so I suspect they’ll get over it.
Whatever the case, Bosio likely won’t say unemployed for long. He is widely credited with helping Jake Arrieta transform from a project to an ace and for the considerable and the somewhat unexpectedly successful development of Kyle Hendricks. The Tribune suggests that he’d be a good fit in Minnesota, where his former teammate Paul Molitor is in search of a new pitching coach.
There are several intriguing coaches available at the moment, most notably Mike Maddux, who has been the Nationals pitching coach but whose status is now in flux given the firing of Dusty Baker. Maddux’s brother Greg, of course, is a spring training pitching instructor for the Cubs. The Tribune adds that Maddon may look to his old Tampa Bay Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey or, possibly, even recently fired Red Sox manager John Farrell, who made his bones as a pitching coach.