Notes: Howard placed on disabled list

Notes: Howard placed on DL

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies had no choice. Ryan Howard's strained left quadriceps has forced the team to place the National League Most Valuable Player on the disabled list.

Though Howard could still potentially hit another pinch-hit grand slam, the team felt the best way to lick the nagging injury is to give Howard a full two weeks of rest. The move is retroactive to May 10, meaning Howard can return to the lineup on May 25.

"We feel that every time he has to perform, he aggrevates it," assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "We fully expect him to be 100 percent by the time he's expected to be activated."

Amaro then added the dreaded "but," that "it may be something that he'll have to navigate through the entire season."

Held out of the starting lineup for the sixth straight game Saturday -- and he wouldn't have played Sunday against Cubs southpaw Ted Lilly anyway -- the Phillies announced the move after Saturday's 11-7 win over Chicago. Chris Coste, the feel-good story of 2006, returns from Triple-A Ottawa.

While the Phillies will happily take Howard's grand slam on Wednesday that helped beat the Diamondbacks, that appearance cost them three days of retroactive time. The key here is getting Howard back as close to healthy as possible.

Howard said the injury extends to the first game of Spring Training, when he felt something in a game against Detroit. Since the discomfort "came and went," Howard thought nothing of it.

"It's more of a stretch, running and stuff like that," Howard said. "I wasn't really sure what it was. It started getting more constant. I might linger for the rest of the season, but the key thing is to try to get it to the point where it's minimal. Hopefully, with the rest, it will get better, and I'll be able to tolerate it.

"They said rest is what I need."

In his stead, Greg Dobbs is likely to get the majority of the starts at first base -- at least against right-handed pitching. The lefty had a great start on Saturday, collecting four hits, including a two-run triple that put the Phillies up in a six-run seventh inning. Coste will assume Dobbs' role as a pinch-hitter off the bench.

"We're definitely going to miss him," Abraham Nunez said. "Hopefully, we can do a good job until he comes back."

You can take this one: Aaron Rowand will happily defer to teammate Chase Utley in the quest to lead the team in hits by pitches.

Rowand, who often is getting plunked in every possible place, has been lapped by Utley. Rowand's five hits by pitches are nothing to Utley's National League-leading 12. Utley is two off his career high of 14 (set last season), and on pace to get plunked 55 times.

"I don't mind losing that title," Rowand said. "I had 18 last year, and he's got 12 in six weeks. It's all right. I've been hit so many times in the last three or four years. I'm always in the top five. I'm taking more walks this season than hit by pitches, and that's fine."

"Not to totally give in," Rowand added, "he seems to get hit with offspeed pitches and I get drilled with fastballs."

Suicide works: The Phillies plated their fifth run in an unconventional way Saturday, with a well-executed suicide squeeze by catcher Carlos Ruiz.

Plays like that typically hinge on timing, and the Phillies had the perfect opportunity. Abraham Nunez had just tripled in a run, and been called safe on a close play at third. With Aramis Ramirez playing even with the base, Nunez took off as lefty Scott Eyre threw to Ruiz, who bunted it past the mound.

With no play at home, Ramirez had no choice but to throw to first.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Phillies haven't pulled off a suicide bunt this decade, though they've had two similar plays. Utley recorded a bunt single on Sept. 8, 2004, with a runner on third, but there were two outs at the time, so that couldn't have been a squeeze play.

On Aug. 4, 2002, Marlon Anderson recorded a sacrifice bunt off Los Angeles' Omar Daal, which scored Travis Lee from third. There is no way of telling if that was a squeeze play.

Saving the day: Brett Myers will tell you that the ninth inning is still just about getting people out.

While he's right about that, Myers has fared well in transitioning to his new role as closer. The right-hander is 0-0 with a 0.73 ERA in 11 relief appearances, and has converted all three of his save chances. He's struck out 17 in 12 1/3 innings.

"He brings a lot to the table," Ryan Madson said. "His stuff is so good and his arm has been rubber. He's taking this as a challenge to see if he can do it. That's another thing that's going to motivate him."

Philling in: Saturday starter Freddy Garcia doubled in the second inning, the 11th hit by a Phillies pitcher this season. Philadelphia is third in that area, behind the Mets (15) and Marlins (14). Last season, Phillies pitchers finished last in the league with 29 hits. ... Phillies chairman Bill Giles will autograph copies of his book, "Pouring Six Beers at a Time," on Sunday from 12:30-1:30 p.m. ET, in the Majestic Clubhouse Store. ... Only 500 tickets remain for the annual autograph party and auction to benefit ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) on May 21. ... Former reliever Rheal Cormier signed a minor-league deal with the Braves on Sunday, after being released by the Reds on May 9.

Coming up: Jon Lieber, who will take the mound in Sunday's 1:35 p.m. ET series finale against the Cubs, had his start pushed back two days because of a cut on his finger, suffered on Wednesday, when the pitcher was slicing food. The right-hander surrendered Barry Bonds' 744th career home run in his previous outing, and allowed a total of four runs on seven hits and two walks, losing his first decision of 2007. The right-hander is 11-5 with a 4.46 ERA in 15 career starts vs. Chicago, and will be opposed by Lilly.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.