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Sandberg on Howard situation: 'It could be a platoon'
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Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg finally said the word.

Platoon.

For the second day in a row, slumping Ryan Howard is not in Sandberg’s lineup Thursday afternoon, and this trip to the bench comes against a pitcher that Howard has had big success against –- San Francisco right-hander Tim Hudson.

Howard has hit .328 with seven homers and 17 RBIs in 67 lifetime at-bats against Hudson.

But Darin Ruf, just up from Triple A, is at first base for a second day in a row for the Phillies.

“I wanted to get him two (games) in a row so he could get his feet wet here,” Sandberg said before Thursday’s game.

Sandberg was asked about how he intends to use Howard in the future.

“I look at it as a scenario where against some left-handed pitchers it could be a platoon situation going forward, depending on the numbers,” he said.

It was the first time Sandberg used the word platoon in relation to how he intends to use Howard. Sandberg was reluctant to use that word when he sat Howard on Wednesday (see story).

The Phillies face another lefty, Arizona’s Wade Miley, on Friday night, and another, Vidal Nuno, on Sunday afternoon.

It will be interesting to see what Sandberg does with Howard.

“He’ll be all right,” the manager said.

Here is Thursday's lineup behind Cole Hamels:

1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Jimmy Rollins, SS
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Marlon Byrd, RF
5. Grady Sizemore, LF
6. Darin Ruf, 1B
7. Cody Asche, 3B
8. Wil Nieves, C
9. Cole Hamels, P