The Big Piece has been reassembled.
Today, the Phillies trotted out Ryan Howard to meet with the gathered media and David Murphy. RyHow was rather gregarious, but that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise– he often is.
Reporters asked him the usual litany of questions about his Achilles, what he did with all that free time, if he’ll be back and better than ever blah blah blah. Here are your crib notes, because, if you’re like me, you never read the books in college– just your friend’s notes and gleaned facts from context clues in class discussions. Commentary in italics.
– The Achilles is doing well and has progressed ahead of schedule, it seems. Howard began hitting just two weeks ago but is very comfortable with his swing right now. He thinks that maybe the time off helped him clear his head and get away from it all.
Agreed. He’s played a lot of baseball games over the past few seasons and I don’t think a few months off could hurt any of the Phillies’ core players.
– So, what did he do with the extra free time? Desperate Housewives, all of them.
“I’m into it, I’m not going to lie. There’s a lot of judgement in this room. It’s alright. I can feel it, it’s alright. I watch it proudly.”
He said the remote was usually in the hands of Kyrstle Campbell, former Eagles cheerleader and Jeff Carter conquest turned Little Piece, but it doesn't sound like he fought too hard to change the channel.
Nothing against chick shows or reality television– I watch my share of unwatchable things. But, it’s disappointing that RyHow didn’t invest some time in shows like Homeland (I finished 12 episodes in about two weeks, with a “job”) and Breaking Bad (just digging in now).
– Many people approached him at the grocery store…. this one?
… he said people would come up to him and show their scars from Achilles injuries:
“They already knew [about mine]. I was nice, I wasn’t mean or anything, but people would come up and they would tell me: “You know, man, I did the same thing, man.” And they would show me their scar, and I was like “Oh man, that sucks.” I was just trying to get some milk, man."
Assembled media laughs.
– He’s glad to have Jim Thome back. Learns a lot from him, both guys are pitched similarly.
– Howard is confident that he can get back to where he was. Earlier, Charlie Manuel told reporters that he thinks Howard’s best years are ahead of him. While that may be a stretch, it doesn’t seem like Howard is too concerned about recovery. He thinks he might not be back to 100% until the All-Star Game, though.
– Finally, Howard had an interesting answer when asked if he could hit .300 again:
“Personally, I feel like I hit .300 every year. But, you know, obviously because of the shift… I don’t know how many hits I get taken away from the shift. I don’t know if people keep that stat or what, but mentally I go out there and I feel like I’m doing the same things."
"Other than true line drive base hits, where if a second basemen was playing his normal position it would be a base hit, I don’t really try to get caught up in the whole batting average thing because you’re playing on kind of a different field, I guess.”
Maybe so. But there are people who keep those stats, and they’re called SABR nerds. Here’s what they might have to say: [graph courtesy of Fan Graphs]
Ryan Howard’s BABIP (batting average of all balls put in-play) is generally well above the league average, which falls around .300. So, no, he’s not being significantly, if at all, hampered by the shift. Though, in the years 2004-2006, he had a BABIP above .350. Perhaps that can partly be attributed to the fact that teams needed more time and data to assemble more accurate scouting reports.
That was it. I watched the presser live on CSN’s video feed and was able to experience Michael Barkann emerging from stage-left to wrap the live coverage while other media members scrambled out of the way. Stay out of Barkann’s shot! It’s an iconic maneuver, patented right along with his Gen 1 iPad, which, I believe, needs a name…
[Related: John Gonzalez on Barkann’s toy– “Mark that down on your iPad, Barkann”]
Video of Howard's presser is after the jump. Video of him hitting at the Delco Times website.