NASHVILLE - Matt Klentak and Ryan Howard met for the first time last month. Howard was in Philadelphia before Thanksgiving for a charity event. Klentak, the first-year Phillies general manager, arranged to meet Howard and his agent at Citizens Bank Park.

The meeting lasted roughly an hour. And Klentak said the mood was positive. He said Howard is energized towards next year, despite the possibility that the 36-year-old could platoon at first base.

"I think honesty helps a lot. Just laying the cards on the table and talking about the realities of our team and him and everything about him," Klentak said. "What he's been through with the Phillies, both good and bad. I think just sort of talking that through on a personal level is refreshing. Again, it was very positive."

Manager Pete Mackanin said he has not yet decided how he will use Howard next season. The two talked at the end of last season about Howard's struggles with lefthanded pitchers. Mackanin said he will wait until after Christmas to think more about the situation. He wants to tell Howard personally how he will use him.

"When I talked to him last year when he stopped playing, I gave him his reasons for not playing him and he said 'I don't like it, but I get it,'" Mackanin said. "We went back and forth a little bit. He said 'I don't like what you're doing, but I understand it.' He's just a hell of a nice guy. He truly is a good person."