Ryan Howard

heard the news, but he didn't jump for joy or wonder what it meant for him.

The Milwaukee Brewers signed

Ryan Braun

to a seven-year contract worth at least $45 million on Thursday. Braun, who was the National League rookie of the year last year, entered the season with just 129 days of service time, which meant he went for the security and the Brewers bet that Braun is a superstar in the making who will be a bargain when his contract expires. But that meant little to Howard, who won a $10 million salary from the Phillies in arbitration in February and who hopes to have a multiyear contract of his own.

"That's Ryan Braun," Howard said yesterday at Citizens Bank Park. "It's good for him, but that's his situation. It doesn't necessarily help my situation out, but the situation is what it is."

Howard said his contract status isn't something that has been on his mind.

"Not so much. Not right now," he said. "I'm just playing. I've always said it's something that you can't control. The only thing I can control is what I do on the field. If it ever happens, whenever it happens, it happens."

The Phillies have locked up young players to multiyear contracts in recent years:

Pat Burrell, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins

and

Brett Myers

. But those players - other than Burrell, who signed a major-league contract out of college - were salary-arbitration eligible when the Phillies signed them to deals. Braun wasn't.

Howard will enter his second year of arbitration after this season.

Cole Hamels

, who declined to comment, could enter his first.

But contracts like the one Braun signed don't have any impact on the Phillies.

"When we think it's appropriate to do long-term deals, we'll do them," assistant general manager

Ruben Amaro Jr.

said. "It's not like we haven't done them. We're not opposed to doing them."

The Phillies have talked with Howard about a multiyear contract in recent seasons, but the sides remain far apart. The Phils would leap at the opportunity to sign him to a contract similar to Braun's, but Howard's party understandably is looking for something more substantial because he has more service time and accomplished much more on the field.

"We also have to look down the road at the makeup of our club long term and how the pieces fit together for us," Amaro said.

Breaking out

Howard extended his hitting streak to eight games last night with a single in the third inning, so it looks as if he is breaking out of his slump. But he heard a few boos in the process.

"I think it bothers you a little bit," Howard said. "First off, I think the competitive nature in yourself, you want to go out there and get the job done. It definitely doesn't help when the fans kind of get on you. But at the same time, that's what happens when you sign the permission slip to play in Philly."

Do parents need to sign that permission slip?

"No, you can sign it if you're over 18," Howard joked.

Lopes back at first

First-base coach

Davey Lopes

was supposed to return to action sometime in the next couple of days, but he got there a little earlier than expected.

Lopes, who had prostate cancer surgery in March, replaced

Jerry Martin

in the coach's box in the bottom of the seventh inning. Lopes has been with the team the last couple of weeks but had not been on the field as he rebuilt his stamina. Martin, who took Lopes' place at first, will remain with the team for a couple of weeks to help out.

"Jerry's done an outstanding job, but we're happy to have Davey back," Manuel said.

Extra bases

Chris Coste

started for the third straight game, partly because

Carlos Ruiz

was sick. It helped that Coste entered the game hitting .339 with three home runs and eight RBIs. . . . Rightfielder

Geoff Jenkins

hasn't started since Saturday in San Francisco because the Phillies have had a steady diet of lefthanders. Blue Jays righthander

A.J. Burnett

pitches tonight, so Jenkins could be back in the lineup. "I think it's a matter of time before Jenkins gets hot," Manuel said. "He'll get hot after we see all these lefties." . . .

Jayson Werth

started in center field for the fourth straight game, with

Shane Victorino

playing right. "Victorino will go back to playing center field," Manuel said. "But Werth will play there at times." . . . Righthander

Kris Benson

is scheduled to throw a simulated game in Clearwater, Fla., today.

- Todd Zolecki