Ryan Howard listens to The Cranberries

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Ryan Howard told Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that the ankle injury which caused him to miss three weeks last August and sapped his production down the stretch still isn’t 100 percent healed.

More importantly, in doing so he said:

I still get a little bit of stiffness every once in a while. I’ll take it now and see what happens in spring training. I’ll just continue to look after it and take care of it. Those kinds of things linger, like The Cranberries.

He is, of course, referring to the song “Linger” by the Irish band The Cranberries, who were pretty big for a while in the early 1990s. Howard was 14 years old when the song came out, although baseball-playing jocks from Missouri probably weren’t Dolores O’Riordan’s target demographic.

As for the ankle injury, Howard said it’s about 90-95 percent healthy and “a lot better than it was” when he played through it in August and September, hitting just .231 with a modest .786 OPS in 39 games following a disabled list stint.

Phillies sign Francisco Liriano and Neil Walker to minor league deals

Francisco Liriano
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Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.

Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.

Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.