PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Ryan Howard -- a three-time all-star, two-time home run champ, NL MVP, and World Series champion -- believes he deserves to play.
Phillies manager Pete Mackanin told reporters a few weeks ago that if Howard continues to struggle against left-handers, the Phils could look to platoon Howard with Darin Ruf at first base.
Howard doesn't think that's fair.
"Me, personally?" Howard said, addressing reporters at Spring Training in Clearwater, Florida on Tuesday. "I -- Probably not. But it is what it is. The situation is the situation. You just go out there and go play."
"The track record speaks for itself," Howard said. "Again, I've always been a guy who is a team player. I'm always gonna be a competitor. I'm always gonna want to be able to go out there against, whoever -- doesn't matter -- righty or lefty because I know I can get the job done. I know all the talk over the past few years and this and that or whatever -- I'm not gonna focus on it. For me, like I said, it's taking advantage of the opportunities when I get the chance to go out there and play."
Howard, 36, had just 13 hits in 100 at-bats with 40 strikeouts against lefties last season for a slash-line (BA/OBP/SLG/OPS) of .130/.178/.240/.418.
Ruf, 29, had 36 hits in 97 at-bats vs. lefties with eight home runs and 22 RBI's. Ruf's slash-line was an impressive .371/.447/.660/1.107.
"My mind set every year since I've been here, whoever it is that's out there on the field that's who you gotta go with," Howard said. "I miss Chase [Utley]. I miss Jimmy [Rollins]. I miss all those guys, but you gotta go with what's right there in front of you."
An Al-Jazeera report was published around Christmas time linking Howard, among other high-profiled athletes, to performance enhancing drugs. Howard's attorney has since called the claims "completely false," filing a defamation lawsuit against the Al-Jazeera news agency.
"With the actions being taken as far as the litigation and all that kind of stuff, I'm gonna just leave it at that," Howard said. "Because the process is underway and let the process take care of itself."
Howard was asked why he was targeted in the report.
"I really can't tell you," he said. "I really don't know. Again, the process is underway and I'm gonna just let it handle itself."
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