Howard thanks Bonds for hitting tips
Phils slugger applies lessons, off to strong start at plate
HOUSTON -- Everybody knew Ryan Howard traveled to Florida in January to prepare for the season, but nobody knew he added a twist to his routine.
He called Barry Bonds for help.
"He gave me a phone call and asked if I could come down and talk to him, and I said I'd be happy to," Bonds said Sunday in San Francisco. "He's doing very, very well. He hasn't said one thing about me yet, but I love him and I'm glad he's doing well."
Howard is hitting .357 (10-for-28) with three doubles, one triple, three home runs and 10 RBIs through six games. He has walked twice and struck out just four times, which is worth noting. Howard struck out in 32.4 percent of his at-bats before this season, but has struck out in just 14.3 percent of his at-bats this year. It is a small sample size, but there is no questioning Howard is having a good start.
"We worked. We talked. We did a little bit of everything," Howard said following Sunday's 2-1 victory over Houston at Minute Maid Park. "I'm trying to learn from him."
Howard wouldn't get into specifics, but he said they generally talked about how to improve his approach at the plate and "finding that comfortable spot."
Howard, who said Bonds worked with him for a few days, said he thinks he has applied some of those lessons on the field.
"I'm trying to just let things happen," he said. "Just take them and mold them into what works. It's been great so far."
Howard and Bonds always talked behind the batting cage whenever the Phillies and Giants played one another, so they knew each other before Howard made the call.
"What he did for me was great," Howard said. "That was huge. You don't get too many chances to really work with somebody that you grew up idolizing. He's one of the greatest players to ever play this game. For me, it was an honor to just sit there and listen and watch. He's so smart as far this game is concerned. The things that he knows, the things that he was telling me and teaching me, I hope to continue to learn. That's the thing about this game. You're always trying to make adjustments. You're always trying to learn. And who better to learn from than one of the best players in the game?"
"Tell him, 'Thanks, Barry.'"
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.