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Ryan Howard would like you to know that he is not retired

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Ken Rosenthal of Fox catches up with Ryan Howard.

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.

The Red Sox are calling up Rafael Devers

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Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports that the Red Sox are calling up third base prospect Rafael Devers. He’ll be in Seattle for the start of the three-game set between the Sox and Mariners.

Devers, 20, is the top prospect in the Boston system according to MLB Pipeline. He has spent most of his season with Double-A Portland, where he hit .300/.369/.575 with 18 home runs and 56 RBI in 320 plate appearances. He was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket after the All-Star break. In eight games with Pawtucket, Devers hit .355/.412/.581 with two home runs and four RBI.

There is still just over a week until the non-waiver trade deadline, but perhaps the Red Sox seem confident Devers can be the answer to the third base problem.

Stephen Strasburg exited Sunday’s start with an apparent injury

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It’s not a good day if you’re a star starting pitcher. First Clayton Kershaw, now Stephen Strasburg. The Nationals’ right-hander lasted only two innings in Sunday’s start against the Diamondbacks, leaving with an apparent injury. Strasburg held the D-Backs to a hit and three walks with two strikeouts without allowing a run. Matt Grace relieved him in the third inning.

Including Strasburg’s two innings on Sunday, he’s carrying a 3.25 ERA with a 141/37 K/BB ratio in 121 2/3 innings.

The Nationals should pass along word on Strasburg’s condition shortly.