Phillies holding Ryan Howard out until Sunday

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The Phillies won’t be using first baseman Ryan Howard in the starting lineup until Sunday, reports Matt Gelb. Howard had an awful game last night, costing his team both offensively (with a rally-killing double play in the fifth inning) and defensively (falling down while fielding a Juan Uribe sacrifice bunt) en route to a loss. He had been on a bit of a tear, raising his OPS 100 points between June 12-22, but it quickly faded. The Dodgers are slated to use lefties Chris Capuano tonight and Hyun-jin Ryu tomorrow.

Year two of the Ryan Howard extension has been better than year one, but GM Ruben Amaro obviously hoped for a lot more than what they’ve gotten thus far. Howard has been battling a nagging knee injury for a while, which is at least partially to blame for his recent woes. Still, you have to wonder when the Phillies swallow their pride and relegate him to a platoon role. He is carrying a .516 OPS against lefties at the moment, compared to .894 against right-handers.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.