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News » Phillies Notebook: Phillies slugger Howard wants to be All-Star in hometown of St. Louis


Phillies Notebook: Phillies slugger Howard wants to be All-Star in hometown of St. Louis


Phillies Notebook: Phillies slugger Howard wants to be All-Star in hometown of St. Louis
ST. LOUIS - Albert Pujols plays for the Cardinals. Ryan Howard grew up in the St. Louis area as a fan of the team. They are two of the most respected hitters in Baseball. They are friends and have worked out together in the offseason.

But only one can start at first for the National League when the All-Star Game is played at Busch Stadium on July 14.

However, Howard said last night, he doesn't consciously try to one-up Pujols.

"I think both of us just focus on going out there and trying to help our own teams," he explained. "I think it would be overblown to say that we don't get along even though we're both very competitive people."

He conceded, however, that he has thought about how much fun it would be to play in the All-Star Game in St. Louis, whether as a starter or coming off the bench.

"That would be awesome," he said. "That would be a great experience, being in the All-Star Game in your hometown. It would be right up there."

Howard was named to the 2006 All-Star Game as a reserve. He hasn't been back since, despite hitting 47 and 48 homers in the next 2 years, respectively.

It's possible Howard used that thought as motivation for his offseason workouts. Or maybe he was just emulating Pujols, who was known as a slugger early in his career, but has developed into a more complete player.

"Being known as an all-around player is important to me," Howard said. "That's the type of player I want to be. I don't want to be one-dimensional."

Howard and Pujols have twice finished 1-2 in the Most Valuable Player voting, including last year, when Pujols won. Howard says he follows what Pujols is doing.

"You turn on the television and he's on every day," he said with a laugh. "He's one of those guys who's fun to watch . . . against other teams."

Starry-eyedAfter tonight's game ends, the Phillies players will go through the normal routines. They will shower and pack and board the buses that will whisk them to the airport. Then they will fly to New York, where they will open another series, this one against the Mets.

That's the last time they're scheduled to be in St. Louis this year.

Not so for manager Charlie Manuel. He'll return for the All-Star Game and the surrounding festivities as manager of the National League team. It's one of the perks of taking a team to the World Series the previous season.

Manuel acknowledged he thought about that during the flight to St. Louis on Sunday evening.

"I'm really looking forward to it," he said. "It's my first one. And the first thing I think about is winning it, because it is the homefield advantage [for the World Series]. It's a big event and I want the players to relax and enjoy it. At the same time, I want us to compete and win."

In addition to the Phillies' coaching staff, Manuel can pick two other coaches for the game. Generally, they're managers from other NL teams. It's just a thought, but Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and Dodgers manager Joe Torre would be appropriate choices.

No Parking zoneCharlie Manuel said he thinks the problems Chan Ho Park has had during the regular season might be related to putting too much pressure on himself.

"It might be because he's thinking too much," the manager theorized. "I know he thinks he has to pitch much better, and he might be trying a little too hard."

Yet Manuel didn't deny that Park (0-1, 8.57) could be pitching for his spot in the rotation when he faces the Mets tomorrow night at Citi Field.

"Maybe I did put too much pressure on myself," Park said. "I just have to focus better. There's always pressure pitching in the big leagues. That's natural, but you've got to control it. So you just have to focus and stay relaxed."

Here's another theory: It's not uncommon for pitchers who have participated in winter ball to be impressive in spring training, because they're so far ahead of everybody else. And Park has talked about how diligent he was during the offseason, even skipping pitching for his native Korea in the World Baseball Classic, to try to earn a spot in the Phillies' rotation. *


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 5, 2009

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