Phils' Howard feels he hasn't peaked

CLEARWATER — Ryan Howard stepped into the batter's box for his first round of spring swings and immediately sent a ball soaring over the leftfield fence.

He's leaner, and he might even be stronger.

The Phillies slugger arrived at camp Sunday intent on getting better after averaging 49.5 homers and 143 RBIs over the past four years.

"I want to improve at everything," he said. "Numbers are numbers, but I want to become more consistent at everything, try to get stronger, faster, leaner and be in the best shape I can be in to help the team win. Defensively, I've still been working with (coach) Sam (Perlozzo) to get better. Hitting, I want to become more consistent. I just want to work on every facet of my game."

A two-time All-Star first baseman, Howard won the NLCS MVP last season but followed with a miserable performance against the Yankees in the World Series. He batted .174 (4-for-23) with one homer and three RBIs and set a record by striking out 13 times. New York won in six games.

"It was frustrating," Howard said. "You don't want to be that team that falls short. Somebody has to win. Somebody has to lose. They outplayed us. There's no excuses. It's done. It's over. Now we focus on 2010."

Yanks: Starting fresh

TAMPA — Yankees RHP Javier Vazquez threw 35 pitches during his first spring training bullpen session.

Vazquez was acquired in an offseason trade with the Braves to be the fourth starter behind CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte.

"The first time out, I feel okay," Vazquez said.

Vazquez had pitched off a mound several times, the last being a week and a half ago, at home in Puerto Rico. After he pitched 2191/3 innings last season, the Yankees had originally planned to keep him off the mound until Wednesday.

Jays: Reliever out

DUNEDIN — Blue Jays RH reliever Dirk Hayhurst was placed on the 60-day disabled list and is expected to miss most of the season after having right shoulder surgery Feb. 5.

Hayhurst, 28, damaged the labrum during offseason workouts. He spent most of last season with Triple-A Las Vegas and had a 2.78 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 222/3 innings with the Blue Jays.

His book, The Bullpen Gospels: Major League Dreams of a Minor-League Veteran, is due to be released March 30.

FAST FACTS

Yankees

First full-squad workout: Wednesday

Where: George Steinbrenner Field, 1 Steinbrenner Drive,
Tampa

Phillies

First full-squad workout: Tuesday

Where: Carpenter Complex and Bright House Field, 601 Old Coachman Road, Clearwater

Blue Jays

Pitchers/catchers: Report today

First full-squad workout: Friday

Where: Englebert Complex, 1700 Solon Ave., Dunedin

Phils' Howard feels he hasn't peaked 02/21/10 [Last modified: Monday, February 22, 2010 7:43am]

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