Ryan Howard is on the comeback trail

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Laugh all you want about the $105 million the Phillies still owe Ryan Howard. And laugh all you want about the .219/.295/.423 slash line the first baseman posted at the age of 32 last season in his return from a torn Achilles. In nine spring training games, Howard is looking more and more like the former MVP who terrorized pitchers across the league.

In 24 spring at-bats, Howard has slugged three homers, tied for the second-most among contestants in both the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues. Two of those homers have come against name brand pitchers in Craig Kimbrel and R.A. Dickey, both hit to left-center. The third, his most recent, was a tape-measure shot to right against Blue Jays lefty Brett Cecil. Along with the homers, Howard has hit three doubles and driven in ten runs.

Howard has traditionally been a high achiever in spring training. His OPS starting in 2011 — he did not participate in spring training last year — and working backwards to 2006 has been .904, .896, 1.180, 1.017, .710, and 1.133. Along with the fact that spring training stats are notoriously poor barometers by which to predict regular season success, one should take his performance in 24 at-bats thus far with a giant grain of salt. Still, the city of Philadelphia would love to see their star slugger back in form, reclaiming his place in the middle of the Phillies’ lineup.

World Series Umpires Announced

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Major League Baseball just announced the umpires for the World Series.

The crew chief will be Gerry Davis. Davis was worked 136 career Postseason games, which are the most of any umpire in Major League Baseball history. This is his sixth World Series overall and third time as crew chief.

Joining Davis will be Phil Cuzzi, Laz Diaz, Dan Iassogna, Bill Miller, Paul Nauert and Mark Wegner. Wegner will serve as the replay official for Games One and Two, after which he will join the on-field crew as the left field umpire for Game Three. Cuzzi will be the Replay Official from Game Three through the conclusion of the World Series. Cuzzi will not be a field umpire for any of the games.

The breakdown: