PHILADELPHIA -- Everybody knows Ryan Howard has struggled tremendously against left-handers, especially opposing managers, who happily run a steady stream of lefties at him in critical parts of the game.
Howard has a mere .604 on-base-plus-slugging percentage against lefties from 2011-13, including a 1-for-15 effort with one double, one walk and eight strikeouts against them this season. His .604 OPS against lefties ranks 170th out of 178 qualifying players in baseball during that span. (Coincidentally, Jimmy Rollins ranks 169th with a .605 mark.) Howard has nine home runs, 18 walks and 108 strikeouts in 283 plate appearances against lefties in that stretch.
So it made perfect sense to rest Howard against Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park, although Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said Howard did not play because he has tightness in his right groin.
He said Howard is day to day.
But Manuel also acknowledged Howard's struggles against lefties, when he said, "This is a good time, gives me a chance to sit him down."
Manuel said Howard was available to pinch-hit but wasn't needed in the 8-2, rain-shortened win. Kevin Frandsen got the start at first base, and though he didn't get a hit in his two at-bats, he walked, reached on an error and scored twice. It was his first start of the season, despite the fact he hit .338 with 10 doubles, three triples, two home runs and 14 RBIs last season, including a .400 (26-for-65) mark against left-handers.
Maybe Frandsen can find playing time at first base when the Phillies face lefties. In the meantime, he will just try to be ready to play.
"You go in the cage and work your butt off and when the time comes [to play] you hope you're prepared," Frandsen said. "It is tough when you go a while without getting a lot of at-bats, but that's part of the job. It's not about a complaint. That's what my role is. Obviously, it is a lot different when you're playing every day. Last year I got that chance. I proved that I could do it every day. I hit [close to] .340. You hope that didn't get lost in the shuffle with everything."
Frandsen played 1 1/3 innings at first base over the weekend in Miami. He has played 34 innings there in his big league career, plus some more in the Minor Leagues.
"I've got a glove in my hand, so I feel comfortable there," he said. "That's all that matters to me."
Ruiz hit with pitch in extended spring game
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz got hit with a pitch on his left wrist on Friday in an extended spring training game in Clearwater, Fla.
X-rays came back negative. The Phillies said he is day to day.
That is a big relief. Ruiz is serving his 25-game suspension for using a banned stimulant, but is eligible to rejoin the team on April 28 against the Mets at Citi Field. They need him back badly. Phillies catchers -- Erik Kratz and Humberto Quintero -- had a .480 on-base-plus-slugging percentage entering Friday, which was the third-worst mark in baseball.
Only the Marlins (.446) and Reds (.430) had gotten less production from their catchers.
Phillies recall Savery to fill spot in bullpen
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies had numerous competitors for three bullpen jobs in Spring Training.
One included left-hander Joe Savery, but the Phillies optioned him to Minor League camp March 6. It was a pretty clear sign he had slipped on the depth chart behind left-handers Antonio Bastardo, Jeremy Horst and Raul Valdes.
But after the Phillies placed left-hander John Lannan on the 15-day disabled list Thursday, they recalled Savery, who is expected to help the bullpen before they find somebody to take Lannan's spot in the rotation Monday. Savery had allowed only two hits and struck out 11 in 7 2/3 scoreless innings in five appearances with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
From first out, to first up for Savery.
Things can change quickly.
"Having been around long enough, stuff does happen quick," Savery said. "You try to tell yourself that when you're struggling and even otherwise. If you put it together you never know with injuries and trades and whatnot what's going to happen.
"It was a little bit of a frustrating and confusing situation," he said about his early spring demotion. "But there are some guys that did their job very well last year, did their job better than I did. I came into camp knowing that those guys deservedly were ahead of me. But the good news was is I got to go to Minor League camp and pitch every few days there, so I certainly got my work in, which wasn't always the case last year."
• Freddy Galvis started for the second consecutive game in left field. He went 0-for-4 but made a nice diving catch. Manuel said outfielder Domonic Brown, who was pulled from Wednesday's game in Cincinnati because of a back issue, should be back in the lineup Saturday. "We want to make sure his back is OK," Manuel said.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.