Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg met with the media upon arriving at spring training and said the following when asked about Ryan Howard’s status on the team:
Right now, unless he gets unseated, he’s the first baseman. He needs to prepare himself to be the best first baseman he can be.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has made it pretty clear that he’d like to rid the Phillies of Howard’s long-term contract, but obviously no teams are interested in taking him off their hands and Amaro has so far been unwilling to simply move on by eating all the money. And so that leaves Sandberg in a relatively tough spot where he has to dance around the fact Howard isn’t very good any longer without actually benching him.
All of which leads to quotes like “right now, unless he gets unseated, he’s the first baseman.” Sandberg did tell Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that he recently spoke to Howard and the former MVP is “very positive with the conversation” and “he wanted to be part of the process here with the younger players that we might have in camp.”