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Howard remains on bench with sore groin

PHILADELPHIA -- First baseman Ryan Howard was out of the starting lineup with a sore groin for the second straight game Saturday night against the Cardinals, but manager Charlie Manuel expects him to be ready to play in Sunday night's nationally-televised series finale.

"He's feeling better, but we decided to give him another day. He's still got some stiffness and soreness, but more than likely he'll be able to go [Sunday]," Manuel said.

Howard has one home run and five RBIs in 62 at-bats this season, but Manuel reacted strongly when asked if he might drop him out of the cleanup spot in order to be able to slot the right-handed-hitting Michael Young between lefties Chase Utley and Howard.

"I don't think so right now," Manuel said. "First of all, I think we've got to get Ryan going. I think we've got to have Ryan's power in our lineup. He is our big RBI guy.

"Guys are always talking to me about dropping him down. That'll be the day when somebody knocks in 130 runs. Or 120. I haven't seen anybody out here who can do that yet. That's kind of how I look at it. We can talk about it and go all around any way we want to."

Manuel pointed out that even though injuries limited Howard to 71 games last season, he still had 14 homers and 56 RBIs.

"It's just a matter of getting him going. I think that's the biggest thing," Manuel said. "We need to get Howard hitting like he has in the past. The last couple years, he's been hurting and he hasn't gotten back yet."

Paul Hagen is a reporter for
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