PHILADELPHIA -- Rather than escape the humidity after Friday's batting practice, Ryan Howard and hitting coach Milt Thompson had a meeting to attend. At the behest of Thompson, Howard and Giants slugger Barry Bonds met on the field and talked for 15 animated minutes, about all things hitting, but specifically how to deal with the opposition's reluctance to offer much to hit. "That's why I wanted him to talk to Ryan today, to explain to him to take the walks," Thompson said. "You're still going to get your numbers, but don't try to make something happen. Just be patient. It was a great talk. [Pitchers] are going to treat Ryan the same way. He's going to be the guy who's going to get 150 walks a year. It's more important for him to understand to take the walks, because there will be times when they'll have to pitch to you. And when you get a pitch to hit, don't miss it."
Bonds has changed the way teams approach hitters of his ilk since 1986 and especially in the past six years. Opposing managers absolutely won't let Bonds beat them. In 1998, Arizona manager Buck Showalter intentionally walked Bonds with two outs and the bases loaded, in an 8-6 game. Sheesh. Howard got similar treatment last year as he captured the National League Most Valuable Player Award. Despite his struggles this season, Howard has drawn 33 walks, largely out of respect for his 2006 accomplishments. "Keep your head up," Bonds said. "You'll get through it. If you can't deal with the bad times in the game of baseball, you'll never, ever appreciate the good times. Period. If you can't battle through those tough times, you'll never go through the good times, because it isn't going to happen. This isn't like a movie where they say, "Cut, take," and you look good all the time. No, this is live." Howard is on record as a Bonds fan and lists him and Cincinnati's Ken Griffey Jr. as his heroes. "There was some helpful advice mixed in with the friendly banter," Howard said. "A lot of that comes with years of playing. You're learning stuff every day. This year, I'm learning how to deal with the shift [when the second baseman plays in shallow right field]. He's been in the game a long time. You get guys like Roger Clemens, Jamie Moyer and Randy Johnson, and they're still learning stuff. A lot of it just comes with the experience of playing and being in that situation." Thompson was thrilled that the two talked. "He's a knowledgeable baseball player who's trying to help a young kid who has a chance to [achieve] the same status," Thompson said. "He's just helping him along and trying to get to understand that you can't force the game. You can't make things happen. This game is a roller coaster, and you're going to have peaks and valleys. The key is having an even keel and not stay in the valleys too long." It's on: One of the disappointing aspects of Cole Hamels' May 6 start against the Giants was that it didn't feature a matchup with Bonds, who sat out that night's game. Hamels may get his wish Saturday, as the Giants left fielder is expected to play. "To be among the best players in the game, you have to beat the best," said Hamels, who never lacked self-confidence. "It's going to be difficult. That's the best thing about playing. Hopefully, I can face him three or four times, so I can see if I can actually notice something. It's part of that game. He's such an amazing superstar." Hamels got lucky May 12 of last year, when his Major League debut featured facing Griffey. The lefty struck him out looking in the first, walked him in the third and struck him out in the fifth. Dealing with Bonds will trump that. "This is way beyond that," Hamels said. "It's up there with the dream of making it to the Major Leagues. I'm in awe, but [Saturday] I won't be." Just need the cornfield: James Earl Jones, known for his role as Terrance Mann in "Field of Dreams," as well as many other films, television shows and Broadway shows, read "Casey at the Bat" to fans at Citizens Bank Park, as part of the Phillies' Be a Phanatic About Reading Night. The event was sponsored by Verizon, the company for which Jones is a pitchman. Minor news: Left-hander J.A. Happ was placed on the 15-day disabled list with left elbow inflammation, and the team doesn't believe the injury to be serious. Happ is the second pitching prospect to hit the DL this week, joining former first-round pick Kyle Drabek. ... Infielder Lou Collier has retired. ... Right-hander Carlos Carrasco, one of the organization's top prospects, allowed two hits in seven innings in Class A Clearwater's win against Dunedin (Blue Jays). Philling in: Roger Waters, the legendary co-founder of Pink Floyd, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... Right-hander Tom Gordon (right rotator cuff strain) is continuing to play catch, though the team isn't sure when he might begin throwing off a mound. ... Right-hander Brett Myers (right shoulder strain) could begin throwing early next week. He's eligible to come off the DL on June 9. ... Francisco Rosario was hit on the left knee by a Matt Morris line drive in the third inning Friday and left the game. He was diagnosed with a left knee contusion and is day-to-day. Coming up: Hamels is coming off an outing in which he turned in six innings in Philadelphia's 13-6 win over the Braves. In completing the sweep over Atlanta, Hamels allowed three runs on six hits. He's 2-1 over his past three starts, with a 4.05 ERA. The lefty beat the Giants on May 6, in an 8-5 victory at San Francisco. In that start, the budding ace went seven strong innings, yielding five runs (three earned) and striking out nine. He threw a season-high 118 pitches in the game and bested Giants young gun Tim Lincecum.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.