Phillies president Andy MacPhail says Ryan Howard issue is not an issue at all


Phillies president Andy MacPhail does not see the issue of Ryan Howard's staying with the team in a diminished role for the remainder of the season as being an issue at all.

Over the weekend in San Francisco, MacPhail echoed remarks made by general manager Matt Klentak two weeks ago: The way things stand right now, there's no reason to release Howard. Barring an unforeseen development, both sides can make things work for the remaining three months on Howard's contract.

"I agree with Matt," MacPhail said. "To me, he's one of our 25 best guys right now in the role he's in.

"My experience is, not to be critical of the media, but if they think something is going to happen they like to push the action a little bit. You know what I mean? If they see something teetering, everybody is going to weigh in on one side or another and I don't think Matt or I see this thing as teetering.

"Pete (Mackanin) has done a magnificent job of handling the situation. I know people are sometimes critical of us (the front office) for not getting involved, but we don't want to emasculate the manager or the coaching staff. He has to write the lineups. We can't get him off the hook on certain things. That's the beauty of being a manager. When the players know the manager writes the lineups, the manager has an opportunity to influence the events."

Mackanin has given most of the recent playing time at first base to Tommy Joseph. Howard, hitting .153 with 11 homers and 24 RBIs, has picked up at-bats as a part-timer at first and as a designated hitter in road interleague games, of which there are just two more.

Howard, 36, is still owed over $22 million in 2016 salary and a buyout of the 2017 option in his contract. He has said he will not retire.

While Howard does not like his current role, he understands it and seems willing to ride things out for the remainder of his final year with the club.

"I just try to be upbeat and keep positive," he said. "I understand the game. I understand what takes place in the game. I've been around the game for a long time. You have ups and downs. Right now, when I get out there and play, I try to do what I can and try to help these guys learn and become better ballplayers."

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