The Phillies’ home-run total and slugging percentage ranked below the league average last season, so perhaps their lineup could benefit from a few pointers during spring training by one of the premier power hitters in franchise history.
Ryan Howard, who hit 382 homers with the team over 13 seasons, will serve as a guest instructor in Clearwater, Fla. as he returns to the team in an official capacity for the first time since his playing career ended. Howard last played in 2016 and retired last summer in a ceremony at Citizens Bank Park.
Howard worked last season as a baseball analyst for ESPN but will not return this season as he focuses on other business endeavors. The 40-year-old is a partner with SeventySix Capital, a sports tech venture capitalist fund headquartered in Conshohocken.
The Phillies have 65 players on their spring roster. Pitchers and catchers are to report Feb. 11, with the first full-squad workout being held Feb. 17. The roster will likely grow before the team arrives in Clearwater as the Phillies are still looking to sign veterans to minor-league deals.
Howard will be joined at camp by Larry Bowa, his first major-league manager; Charlie Manuel, Howard’s manager on the 2008 world champions; Brad Lidge, his teammate on the 2008 champs; Pete Mackanin, Howard’s final manager with the Phillies; and former Phillies reliever Dan Plesac. This will be Mackanin’s first year as a guest instructor, while this will be Lidge’s fifth camp and Plesac’s fourth.
Manuel recently returned to Florida after being hospitalized in Philadelphia for nearly a month following a health scare. Manuel, 76, underwent hernia surgery in December in Florida but then was forced to have a bowel resection and was sent to Philadelphia on Christmas Eve.
Manuel and Bowa are both senior advisers to general manager Matt Klentak.