Now healthy, Howard returning to form at plate

Now healthy, Howard returning to form at plate

PHILADELPHIA -- Ryan Howard says he's still playing catch-up after missing much of the last two seasons due to injuries to his left leg, but the Phillies first baseman is showing signs of returning to form as one of the top sluggers in the National League.

Howard is hitting .255 with six home runs and 17 RBIs in 28 games this season, putting him on pace for 34 homers and 98 RBIs. He hasn't approached those numbers since 2011, when he played 152 games and helped the Phillies reach the postseason.

While Howard is off to a good start offensively this season, he's not content with the results.

"It's still a work in progress," he said. "I'm trying to progress every day and just try to get a little more comfortable."

Howard has certainly looked more comfortable at the plate this year. On Saturday, he slugged a three-run homer to left-center in the first inning. When Howard is going deep to the opposite field, it's a good sign for the Phillies.

"Yeah, just trying to get good pitches," Howard said. "I was able to put a good swing on it. It just kept carrying. Had some good backspin on it. ... Just trying to put good swings on balls. Not trying to do too much. Just take what they give you."

The Phillies will take what Howard has given them so far.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jalaymance. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.