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Phillies bench Ryan Howard for at least the next 3-4 games

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Phillies manager Pete Mackanin had “an adult conversation” with first baseman Ryan Howard, telling the veteran that he would be on the bench for at least the next three or four games, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Tommy Joseph will be in the starting lineup for each of those games.

Howard, 36, went 0-for-3 on Tuesday, dropping his triple-slash line to .154/.215/.343. The Phillies owe him the remainder of his $25 million salary for the 2016 season. Certainly, the Phillies will buy him out for $10 million instead of picking up his 2017 club option for $23 million.

Joseph, meanwhile, is only 24 years old and has hit well since his mid-May promotion. In 40 plate appearances, he has a double and three home runs with five RBI. As a team, the Phillies are averaging 3.15 runs per game, which is now worse than the feeble Braves’ offense (3.16) for the worst mark in baseball. The club also acquired Jimmy Paredes and designated Emmanuel Burriss on Tuesday in an effort to liven up the offense.

Astros greeted with boos in first spring training game

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The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.

Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.

There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.

That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.

The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.

One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.

Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.

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