PHILADELPHIA -- Ryan Howard made two things clear Friday at Citizens Bank Park:
First, if the Phillies and Braves were tied in the National League East standings he would be playing.
Second, the pain in his left ankle hasn't gone away.
While bursitis in his left Achilles bursae kept Howard from starting a 4-2 loss to the Cardinals on Friday, he made an impact in the ninth inning with a double to spark the Phillies' comeback. Howard was replaced by a pinch-runner after legging out the hit.
Howard has not started four of the last 10 games as Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has tried to get his top run producer enough rest to have him feeling as good as possible with the postseason just two weeks away. John Mayberry got the nod on Friday in Howard's spot.
"It's sore," Howard said. "There are days it's looser than others, and there are some days it's stiff. The one constant has been the soreness. I'm trying to get that out."
Howard said a cortisone injection remains a possibility, but that would not come until the Phillies clinch the division. That could happen as early as Friday, if the Phillies beat the Cardinals and the Mets beat the Braves.
Howard snapped an 0-for-16 slump Thursday, when he hit a walk-off double in the bottom of the 10th inning to beat the Marlins, 2-1. Howard said his recent struggles at the plate have not been related to the bursitis.
"It doesn't really affect me in my stance," he said. "It's more so just running, my motion sometimes. As far as being at the plate it doesn't affect that at all."
Howard played with a sprained left ankle late last season, but he said he is unsure if the current injury is related.