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Manuel using pinch-runner for Howard in tight situations

CINCINNATI -- Ryan Howard has never been particularly fast, but he can move once he gets going.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has already pinch-run for Howard twice this season. Howard missed much of 2012 following left Achilles surgery and has a little hitch when he runs. Manuel said replacing Howard on the bags could become a regular occurrence this year.

"I think it might be, yeah," Manuel said. "I hope I don't have to pinch-run for him much. I hope those situations don't come up much. But when you're trying to win the game, especially when somebody is faster or something, the chance of scoring a guy becomes much better."

Asked if he thinks Howard is running noticeably slower, Manuel said, "I'm not saying he's slower. Right now, it's not like he is much faster than he used to be, but at the same time, I think we have a different kind of team than we used to have. Things like that. Also, he was a guy that you felt like that you could leave him in there, and that he could score. Right now, I'd say where's he running from, it is hard to score from second base or even third, depending on where someone hits the ball."

But Manuel said he thinks Howard can improve his running in time, although that remains to be seen.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for
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