PHILADELPHIA (CBS) --- When Ryan Howard steps to the plate at Citizens Bank Park nowadays, he hears boos before he even see a pitch.
After a frustrating 190-strikeout, .223 hitting 2014 season, Howard --- the former NL MVP and World Series Champion --- is just 4-24 (1.67) with eight strikeouts through six games played to start this season.
So will the Phillies consider platooning their $25 million first-basemen?
"There will be times when he gets some days off, perhaps could need them," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told Angelo Cataldi and the 94WIP Morning Show on Tuesday. "At the same time, I think it's also important for us to try to get him---particularly early in the season---is to try to get him into some type of rhythm and see where he can go from there.
"Listen, the lineup is up to Ryno [manager Ryne Sandberg]. I think Ryan has to get to the point---we gotta get him to the point where he's getting into a rhythm so that, that fine line between getting him enough at-bats and getting into a rhythm to see how productive he can be, and also to give other guys opportunities to play."
On Monday afternoon in New York, the first eight-pitches Howard saw from Mets righty Jacob DeGrom were all fastballs. Howard finished the game 1-4 with a single, as the Phils were shutout for the second time in seven games.
"He's been working on a lot of different stances and set ups to try to get himself to the point where he's more comfortable," Amaro said of Howard. "Clearly, I don't think he's seeing the ball all that well and that's important. We've got to get him to the point where he's using something more consistent and seeing the ball better.
"Ryan's become more and more streaky as his career's moved on," said Amaro. "And so, it's just a matter of getting him to a place where he feels comfortable that he can take that approach to the plate every time and he hasn't gotten there yet, clearly."
But wait, there's more.
Phillies six-time all-star second baseman Chase Utley is, amazingly, hitting even worse than Howard. Utley has started the season going a putrid 2-22 (.091) with six strikeouts.
"Chase obviously didn't get as much playing time during the course of this Spring because of the ankle and he's just gotta get into a rhythm," Amaro said on Tuesday morning. "He started off swinging the bat very well in Spring Training. He didn't get enough at bats because of that ankle and he's still getting into the swing of things. He's still got good quickness in the bat, its just timing right now is not ideal. And I think he'll be fine."
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