Howard, Utley, Ruiz get breather in finale

Howard, Utley, Ruiz get breather in finale

Howard, Utley, Ruiz get breather in finale
NEW YORK -- The Phillies trotted out a lineup Sunday afternoon at Citi Field that could have been mistaken for a split-squad lineup in Spring Training.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel gave Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz days off in the series finale against the Mets. Combine their absences with Shane Victorino's spot on the disabled list and the Phillies had four position players that were not on an Opening Day roster last season.

"We've got a good bench today," Manuel said before the game.

It is hardly unusual for Manuel to rest Ruiz in a day game following a night game. Everybody also knows Manuel needs to watch Utley's playing time because of tendinitis in his right knee. Utley has started five of his first seven games back from the DL and had played three consecutive games before Sunday. Wilson Valdez got the start at second.

Howard received his first day off of the season, with John Mayberry Jr. taking his place in his first career start at first base.

Manuel said Howard needed a break. Besides playing every day, he played all 19 innings Wednesday against Cincinnati and had hit just .197 (14-for-71) with five doubles, one triple, nine RBIs, four walks and 25 strikeouts against left-handers this season. The Mets had left-hander Jon Niese on the mound Sunday.

Howard was 1-for-10 with one RBI, one walk and four strikeouts in his career against Niese.

With Ruiz out of the lineup, Dane Sardinha started behind the plate.