Ryan Howard wasn’t even aware of it.
When asked to give his thoughts on Jonathan Papelbon’s vehement remarks about the Phillies’ current direction, the injured Howard looked puzzled.
“I'll be honest with you, I have no clue what you're talking about,” the Phillies’ first baseman said on Comcast SportsNet’s “Philly Sports Talk” on Monday. “I haven't read any papers, haven't seen anything. I've watched games, but I don't know about anything that's been going on.”
After being told that Papelbon said “a lot” of change -- “from top to bottom” -- had to be done to fix the Phils, Howard then reacted.
“OK,” Howard said before pausing. “Wow, yeah, I would agree, I've been watching the games, to sit here and say it's been fun to watch or anything like that would be a lie. I know guys are going out there and trying to do what they can, but in some way, some shape, some form, you gotta try to figure out how to try to turn that around. I don't think Paps is too far off with that and I'm sure when guys sign here, they sign to try to come and win, and that's the goal for everybody when they go out there on the field, but right now it hasn't been working out too well.”
Papelbon made his remarks on Sunday after the Phillies (49-56) closed a 1-8 road trip with a 12-4 loss to the Tigers. The defeat handed the team season lows in consecutive losses (8), games below .500 (7) and games back of first place in the NL East (11).
Jimmy Rollins -- who attended Howard's Stand Up For Literacy charity event on Monday at the Franklin Institute -- also chimed in on the topic.
"Well," Rollins said, also pausing. "The man has an opinion and there's nothing wrong with that. No one wants to go out there and lose. What happened in Detroit, it wasn't good -- it was embarrassing ... if that's how he feels, you can't knock a man for that."
The trade deadline is July 31, and some sort of changes will likely be made by GM Ruben Amaro Jr. It appears that Cole Hamels, Domonic Brown and Chase Utley are the only players the team won't consider selling, writes CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury (see story).
In separate news, Howard also addressed his knee injury.
“It's good. Surgery's gone well. Now the rehab process is coming along so it's coming slow and steady,” Howard said.
Is there any timetable for a return?
“No, not right now. My focus right now has just been on my knee, trying to get it healthy,” Howard said. “I don't want to come back and have any pain in my knee, that's the goal. Until I feel that, then that's when it'll be healthy. I think maybe I came back a little too fast last year, but, don't want to try to make that same type of mistake and make sure I'm 100 percent healthy.
“As far as my knee was concerned, that was something that had bothered me at the start of spring training. It was difficult trying to be able to push off. I wouldn't say I struggled the entire season, obviously I had a couple of really bad stretches.
“I felt like I was doing pretty well -- the power wasn't there, I wasn't really able to get off my backside, and push and pivot the way I wanted to, but it just got to that point to where the pain got to be too much and had to take care of it.”