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Howard says he's not limited defensively

MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- Ryan Howard said he absolutely should have caught the ball that bounced past him in the eighth inning Wednesday. It contributed to a big inning in a 9-4 loss to the Brewers.

"I took my eye off it a little bit and tried to make a play to go home," he said. "The first rule of thumb is to make the play first before you go home. It just came off a little quick trying to make the move. It was an error. I had it. I had a clear play on it."

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PHILADELPHIA -- Ryan Howard said he absolutely should have caught the ball that bounced past him in the eighth inning Wednesday. It contributed to a big inning in a 9-4 loss to the Brewers.

"I took my eye off it a little bit and tried to make a play to go home," he said. "The first rule of thumb is to make the play first before you go home. It just came off a little quick trying to make the move. It was an error. I had it. I had a clear play on it."

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Howard does not seem to be stretching for balls as much at first base as he had in the past, although he said he is not limited defensively following two seasons of injuries to his left leg.

"Not at all," he said.

But Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said Howard is "slightly restricted on getting full athletic position, really getting down low where a guy would want to be, he is restricted to some extent there. Even last year, with the bum knee, he was fine as far as picking balls and receiving balls and actually throwing to the bases. So like I said, it's continued work and practice. I see him improving."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com.

Philadelphia Phillies, Ryan Howard