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Better hitting through dentistry?

Better hitting through dentistry?
WASHINGTON - Ryan Howard has made a number of changes since the Phillies won a World Series championship last October. He signed a multiyear contract. He dropped about 20 pounds.

He labored to improve his defense. And, canny observers may have noticed, he began wearing a mouthpiece during games.The first baseman, 29, is always seeking ways to improve. When he saw Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez sporting a clear mouthpiece on his lower row of teeth last season, Howard was intrigued. So during spring training, he had a representative from the company Bite Tech Inc. fashion a custom version."It's supposed to be a performance thing," Howard said. "It's supposed to relax your lower jaw, and that allows more blood to flow to the brain."Howard said that he was the only Phillie to use one. Whether or not the mouthpiece has yielded the desired result, Howard is batting .345 with one home-run and a .387 on-base percentage this season.Blanton starts today. Joe Blanton will be on the mound against Washington, looking for a significant improvement over his four-inning, seven-run regular season debut last Wednesday against the Braves. Blanton enjoyed a stellar spring training, posting a 2.76 Grapefruit League ERA. He said Monday that after a transition period following last July's trade from Oakland, he has grown comfortable with his new team and league. "I don't think I showed what I can do until last September or October," he said. With the Phillies , Blanton has not yet been forced to deal with the trade rumors that are a constant for many Athletics pitchers. He had grown accustomed to that reality of life in Oakland and learned to see the positive side of job insecurity."You get used to it," he said. "It's that way with a lot of teams, maybe more so with the A's. But if you're traded, it means someone wants you."Contact staff writer Andy Martino at 215-854-4874 or

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 15, 2009

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