Interleague trip lets Sandberg DH Howard

Interleague trip lets Sandberg DH Howard

ANAHEIM -- Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg clearly stated a couple of weeks ago he wanted to start mixing in players other than Ryan Howard at first base the remainder of the season.

But that talk quickly changed. After Darin Ruf started three consecutive games at first base from July 23-25, Howard started 15 of the next 16. But Sandberg had Ruf at first base for Tuesday night's Interleague series opener against the Angels at Angel Stadium, where Sandberg could use Howard as his designated hitter.

"Get Howie off his feet, but also give him four at-bats," Sandberg said. "The luxury of American League game with a DH, yeah."

Ruf went 1-for-2 with one home run, two RBIs and one walk in Monday's loss to the Mets at Citizens Bank Park. Sandberg is hopeful it could get Ruf going offensively. Before Monday's finale, Ruf was 3-for-21 in his first 12 games since being recalled late last month.

"It was good to see Darin drive the ball like he did, in the middle of the field like that," Sandberg said.

Sandberg also started Andres Blanco at third base. Cody Asche is in a 2-for-20 slump in his last six games.

"A little hot and cold, but doing a good job at third," Sandberg said of Asche. "He's played some good defense. He's improved a lot. He's moving side to side a lot better."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.