Howard given 'mental day' in DC series finale

Howard given 'mental day' in DC series finale

Howard given 'mental day' in DC series finale
WASHINGTON -- Ryan Howard won't deny it. He's in a bit of a funk at the plate.

The Phillies' first baseman was given the day off -- what the slugger called "a mental day" -- in Thursday's series finale against the Nationals.

The former National League MVP had just one hit and nine strikeouts in his last 14 at-bats entering Thursday, and was hitting just .206 with four homers and nine RBIs in 19 games since returning from rehabbing from the Achilles injury that kept him out the first few months of the season.

"As far as my swing is concerned, going through the process and going through rehab, I felt good. Right now, it's just, I'm in a funk," Howard said before Thursday's series finale against the Nationals. "And there ain't no point in trying to hide it. In a funk. Right now, I'm not seeing the ball, I'm not comfortable."

Howard admitted he's a little frustrated and agreed that Thursday was probably a good time for manager Charlie Manuel to give him the day off.

"I've been just trying to find it, searching, and I've just been off," Howard said. "I've had times where I may not have had the results I was looking for, but I felt good. Felt good in the at-bats, or felt good here or there. Right now, it's just off. Off more than I would want it to be."

Howard and Manuel talked through much of Wednesday's 3-2 win, during which Howard went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and a walk.

Manuel said Howard is "kind of still in Spring Training mode" and "kind of out of whack at the plate right now." Manuel added that Howard will "get right" and be "OK."

"You can tell he's getting a little down 'cause he's not hitting better," the skipper said. "He's kinda upset cause he's striking out."

Howard hopes a mental day to "just relax and kind of let things calm down" will help him when the Phillies open a nine-game homestand on Friday.

"You go through funks and this and that," he said. "I don't blame it on rehab. I know everyone always talks about this and that. To me, maybe I'm just stubborn in this sense, but I had the feel I wanted to feel. Right now, I'm not feeling it. I'm not trying to put excuses on not having Spring Training and just coming off the rehab. I want to be able to go out here and compete. Sometimes I might press a little bit to get things done. Right now, it's having to calm down and have the game come back to me, instead of trying to make things happen."