Notes: Howard throws BP; Realmuto's contract

February 19th, 2020

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- , the No. 2 prospect in the Phillies organization according to MLB Pipeline, threw 27 pitches in his first bullpen session since being sidelined with a minor right knee injury.

Howard, 23, injured his knee in early February doing some training exercises. Manager Joe Girardi said the right-hander’s return to the mound Wednesday was a success.

“I saw two pitches; he said he felt great," Girardi said. “We were not really concerned, but we’ve got to slow him down a little bit.”

Girardi doesn’t want to overwork Howard this spring after he pitched in the Arizona Fall League until November. The hope is that Howard will be on a strict innings limit in the Minors this season, so that he will be available to pitch in September when the Phillies expect to be fighting for a postseason spot.

There are currently no plans for when Howard will pitch in a game.

“He’s got to do his progression just like all the other pitchers,” Girardi said. “We’re not going to waste a lot of innings in Spring Training.”

Overall, Girardi said he’s very happy with what he’s seen from Howard as well as Philadelphia’s top-rated prospect, third baseman , and the work ethic they have shown during camp, despite the additional attention that has come their way.

“I think they’ve been pretty good; I haven’t seen them change,” Girardi said. “I think they are fairly laid back and calm, and they just go about their business and do their work.”

Going easy
Girardi said that he anticipates will be back in camp Thursday after his salary arbitration hearing in Phoenix on Wednesday. When the catcher returns, Girardi said he will increase his workload at a comfortable pace.

“At some point, I’d like to get him up to three days in a row -- at least two. But no, I will take it easy on him,” Girardi said.

He also said that it’s unlikely he’ll be used for an entire game this spring.

“I’m a believer that a catcher doesn’t have to catch -- or any player never really has to play nine innings during Spring Training,” Girardi said.

Realmuto, who made $5.9 million in 2019, is seeking $12.4 million, while the Phillies have filed at $10 million. Either total would set a record salary for a catcher eligible for arbitration. This is the third and final year of arbitration for Realmuto, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.

Not taking any Ls
Spectators around the Carpenter Complex were treated to a couple rounds of right-hander tossing live batting practice to a group that included outfielders Bryce Harper, Roman Quinn and the recently acquired Kyle Garlick.

Phillies pitchers have not used the “L” screen for live batting practice to keep the hitters from having an advantage. Arrieta looked sharp, and for the most of the session, the hitters kept their bats on their shoulders.

“If there’s an ‘L’ screen the hitters know what’s coming,” Girardi said. “[This way] pitchers are able to work on sequencing. And sometimes hitters don’t swing a lot.”