Franco posts MLB-leading 7th HR; Howard hits slam

Youngster, vet lead power surge as Phils homer 4 times against Bucs

March 18th, 2016

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies manager Pete Mackanin is thinking what a few other people are probably thinking.

Pace yourself, Maikel Franco.

"I don't want him to waste all of his home runs in the spring," Mackanin said, smiling. "He looks really good at the plate, aggressive, confident. I'm sure he's going to carry it into the season. It's a good guy to have in the middle of the line up right now."

Franco's power surge predicted by Statcast™

Franco hit a three-run home run to left field in the fourth inning Friday in a 15-12 victory over the Pirates in a Grapefruit League game at Bright House Field. Franco has hit seven home runs this spring, more than any other hitter in baseball.

Thirteen players entered the day tied for second with four.

"That's what I've been working on," Franco said about showing more power at the plate this season.

The Phillies are first in the Grapefruit League with 117 runs. They are second with 28 home runs (Peter Bourjos and Cameron Rupp also homered against the Pirates). Nobody expects them to keep up this pace during the regular season, but it is an encouraging start nonetheless.

It isn't just Franco, either. Ryan Howard hit a grand slam over the batter's eye in center field in the fifth inning. It was his second home run in two days. He also laced a pair of singles to finish 3-for-4 with five RBIs.

"That wasn't windblown," Mackanin said of Howard's blast. "That was all him."

"It felt good off the bat," Howard said. "I didn't know it was going to go there."

Howard can appreciate good power as much as anybody. He said he expects big things from Franco this year.

"The sky is the limit with Maikel, man," Howard said. "His ball gets small, really quick."