Philadelphia Phillies' Ryan Howard laughs off trade rumor involving St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols

CLEARWATER — Ryan Howard and the Phillies had a little fun with a rumor that the slugger was on the trading block.

As Howard spoke with the media about a report that the team had discussed offering him to the Cardinals for Albert Pujols, CF Shane Victorino chanted in the distance: "Al-bert! Al-bert! Al-bert!" — cracking up the first baseman.

The story, reported over the weekend by ESPN.com, was vehemently denied by Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.

"I don't really have anything to say about it, to be honest with you, really, truthfully," Howard, a St. Louis native, said Monday. "If that were the case, which I don't know if it is or not or whatever, it is what it is. Just keep going out there and just keep doing your thing. If you do get a call saying you're traded, just say you're traded. But until that happens, I'm still a Phillie, I'm still here."

Howard, who along with Pujols becomes a free agent after the 2011 season, said he wasn't surprised to hear the names in the report. "No, because I don't believe anything until it's done," he said.

POLANCO NICKED: 3B Placido Polanco sprained his right knee during a 5-1 loss to the Pirates. He said he could return by the end of the week.

GAME DETAILS: Ace RHP Roy Halladay gave up his first run in three spring starts but was otherwise solid, striking out six and allowing three hits in five innings. … In the B game, LHP Jamie Moyer gave up five runs in three innings to Toronto in Dunedin. Moyer, 47, is battling RHP Kyle Kendrick for the fifth's starter job.

Jays: Bum knee sidelines reliever

LAKELAND — LH reliever Jesse Carlson is nursing a sore left knee, which has kept him off a mound for much of the past week. He is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Wednesday and hopes to be at full strength by opening day.

GAME DETAILS: LHP Marc Rzepczynski struggled in a wind that whipped through Joker Marchant Stadium during a 10-7 loss to the Tigers. He allowed three earned runs in four innings and struck out four. "He had a hard time turning it over," manager Cito Gaston said. … Former Seminole High standout Brian Dopirak hit a two-run homer.

Yanks: Cano to move up in lineup

TAMPA — 2B Robinson Cano will be given a shot to replace Hideki Matsui in the fifth spot in the batting order, according to the New York Daily News.

"I think it's always been somewhat projected that he would move up in the lineup," manager Joe Girardi told the newspaper. "He's got so much ability and tools, but with young players, sometimes you want to ease him in. To me, Robbie's not a young player anymore, even though he's young on this team."

Cano, 27, batted .320 with a .352 on-base percentage and a .520 slugging percentage last year in his fifth major-league season. He has usually batted sixth or lower.

FAST FACTS

Yankees

Where: George Steinbrenner Field, corner of Dale Mabry and Martin Luther King, Tampa. Tonight: vs. Astros (ss), 7:05, Tampa. Information: yankees.com

Phillies

Where: Bright House Field, 601 Old Coachman Road, Clearwater. Today: vs. Tigers, 1:05, Clearwater.Information: phillies.com

Blue Jays

Where: Dunedin Stadium, 373 Douglas Ave., Dunedin. Today: Off. Information: bluejays.com

Philadelphia Phillies' Ryan Howard laughs off trade rumor involving St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols 03/15/10 [Last modified: Monday, March 15, 2010 11:02pm]

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