One would think a lineup that already had Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence subtracted this week would most likely feature Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins every day for the remainder of the season.
Of course, Howard and Utley both endured lengthy rehabs in the first half of the season, and were handled with care when they were activated. Howard is out of the lineup for tonight's series finale in Washington.
But it doesn't have anything to do with his left Achilles. It's more about the gray matter between his ears.
Howard, who went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts Wednesday night, said he's been given a mental day.
"Right now, it’s just, I’m
in a funk," Howard said. "And there ain’t no point in trying to hide it. In a funk. Right now
I’m not seeing the ball, I’m not comfortable. You know, it’s just one of those
days, a mental day."
Howard is 2-for-18 (.111) with 12 strikeouts in the first five games of the current road trip. Since the day he hit his last home run, on July 23 against Milwaukee, Howard is hitting .160 with 15 strikeouts in 29 plate appearances.
"I’m not going to lie, I’m a little frustrated, a little
flustered a little bit," Howard said. "So I guess it would be a good day for a day off. I’ve
been just trying to find it, searching and I’ve just been off. I’ve had times
where I may not have had the results I was looking for, but I felt good. Felt
good in the at-bats, or felt good here or there. Right now it’s just, it’s just
off. Off more than I would want it to be."
Howard said he'd likely limit his pregame activities to taking ground balls Thursday. By not taking batting practice, he could take a full day away from hitting.
Howard is hitting .206 with a .753 OPS, four home runs and nine RBIs in 19 games since being activated off the DL on July 6. He's struck out 27 times in 74 plate appearances.