Howard, 37, is without a team at the moment but he has not retired. A state of affairs that many are confused about, it seems, as Howard tells Rosenthal:
Ryan Howard and his wife, Krystle, had something of a bet this offseason, a “friendly little thing,” as Ryan put it.
Fans would approach Ryan in Philadelphia and tell him, “Great career.” Krystle interpreted the remark as congratulations for his accomplishments with the Phillies. Ryan would tell her no, that after his farewell ceremony at Citizens Bank Park last September, fans thought he was retired.
So, Ryan said, every time a fan would say, “Great career,” he and Krystle would ask, “What do you mean?” trying to get clarity on the perception of where he stood.
Ryan — without being critical of the Phillies — believes that his on-field farewell at the end of last season at Citizens Bank Park made people think he was retiring, not merely that his career in red pinstripes was over. Sort of a lose-lose situation, I suppose. If the Phillies did not do anything it’d be said that they did not honor one of the most important players in franchise history. As it was, confusion was probably preferable.
But Howard still wants to play. And he’s realistic. He knows he’s a DH now, and probably knows he’s a platoon DH. He knows he’s not going to make a lot of money. He just wants a chance to play again and, to that end, has been “working out furiously.”
It’s hard to see where he might fit, however. It’s rare anymore for a team to have a full-time DH and even more rare for them to have a platoon DH who does not play any other positions. Even then, Howard’s platoon bonafides are not as great as some have portrayed. Rosenthal notes that he hit 24 homers against righties last year but glosses over the fact that he had a .269 OBP against them. Against lefties: .143. He can yank a longball on a mistake, but that’s about all he can do now.
I suspect he’ll get an invite to someone’s spring training and, if he has a good spring, might be able to break camp with someone. But it would shock me less if he doesn’t have a job by the time players report.