Howard had played in 14 games in 14 days, an unusual start in Spring Training for an everyday player. But following a season in which Howard missed more than three months following left Achilles surgery, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel wants to get Howard in shape for the regular season.
"I picked a time and how much we wanted to play him," Manuel said. "He had to play and get over some soreness and some things like that. His quads were sore and he feels better and he's getting where we want him. We want him healthy, but at the same time, we're not trying to kill him down here. We ain't going to kill him. Hard work never hurt nobody. He'll be in shape, but I'll start monitoring him more. He will get some time off."
Howard went 1-for-3 Thursday in a 10-6 loss to the Twins at Bright House Field. He is hitting .364 this spring.
"Looking at him and listening to everybody, I thought the best thing was to play him coming out of the chute," Manuel said. "Get him some playing time, get him in baseball shape and go from there. There are some still some things ... I'd like to see him in better shape. He'll get there, too."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.