7/25/2014 11:06 P.M. ET
Amaro reiterates confidence in Howard
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Friday afternoon that he believes Ryan Howard still has a future with the Phillies.
"I fully expect him to be our first baseman next year," Amaro said. "I don't know where people are coming up with him not having a future with us. He's a very big part of our organization."
Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg benched Howard for the third consecutive game Friday, and he said Thursday there could be a platoon situation at first base going forward. Howard, the highest paid player in baseball this season, is owed at least $60 million through 2017, which makes the possibility of a platoon a strong indication the Phillies are looking at other options for the future.
Sources also said the Phillies have discussed multiple scenarios about Howard's future, including the possibility of releasing him in the offseason. Asked about that, Amaro said, "All I can tell you is that's not in our best interest. It's not something that we've discussed."
Amaro denied this is a matter of a player not being good enough to play every day. Instead, he said, it is a measure meant to get him back on track.
"Let him mentally get regrouped," Amaro said. "Listen, everyone needs a break. And I think that's more of what this is about than anything else. All of us want Ryan to be back and for Ryan to be as productive as he can be. I think that's the goal. … We're hopeful. We went through this with Pat Burrell. He had some good years, some bad years and some years in between. I think that's a part of the baseball process, particularly when you get older. Chase Utley went down and became an All-Star. It's not out of the realm of possibility. A guy can have a poor year one year and a great year the next."
Howard's .682 OPS entering Friday was 207 points lower than his .889 career mark and 36 points below his career low (.718 in 2012). His .377 slugging percentage is 155 points lower than his career average (.532) and 46 points below his career low (.423 in 2012).
"I don't have any issue with his effort," Amaro said. "There's some combination of relaxation and focus, there's some combination in there that will help him get there. We'll see. It's not about [upsetting him]. I think it's more about ... giving him a break to get away from it.
"We don't expect Ryan to be the Ryan Howard of '06, '07, '08. But we know he's a more productive player than he has been over this past month."
Sizemore reaches 1,000-hit milestone
PHILADELPHIA -- Grady Sizemore reached a milestone in the first inning on Friday at Citizens Bank Park.
The veteran center fielder singled up the middle off D-backs southpaw Wade Miley for the 1,000th hit of his career.
Sizemore, acquired by the Phillies after the Red Sox released him in June, entered the night hitting .306 (11-for-36) in 10 games with the Phillies.
Rollins triggers $11 million vesting option for '15
PHILADELPHIA -- Jimmy Rollins said he had not paid much attention to the $11 million countdown, but then again, he's a baseball player who already has made more than $80 million in his career.
Rollins also had friendly reminders along the way.
"Today is the big day," a longtime friend texted Rollins on Friday.
Rollins essentially had next season's $11 million club option automatically vest following his second plate appearance in the opener vs. the D-backs at Citizens Bank Park. Rollins needed 1,100 plate appearances in 2013-14 or 600 plate appearances this season for the option to vest. He hit the 1,100-mark with 666 plate appearances last season and 434 this season.
"It's just like the hits record," Rollins said. "If you're out there, it's just going to happen. When? Who knows? But it's going to happen. It's nothing I was focused on."
Of course, Rollins must finish the season healthy. If he finishes the season on the disabled list and a mutually agreed upon doctor says he will not be ready by Opening Day 2015, the option does not vest. But in that case, Rollins still could pick up a $5 million player option or the Phillies could pick up an $8 million club option.
But assuming Rollins remains healthy, the option turns his contract from a three-year, $33 million deal into a four-year, $44 million deal. Rollins always considered the contract a four-year deal from the beginning. He had 625 or more plate appearances in 12 of the previous 13 seasons, so hitting the 1,100 mark was not a problem.
"I've been here so long," Rollins said about the team's mindset in the plate appearances clause. "Just go out there, be healthy and play. If you play, we know you're going to be able to help us win. We'll make it attainable. We won't make your stretch yourself out and do things to put your career in jeopardy. Just be healthy."
Phils in holding pattern as Deadline approaches
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies have countless players available before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but so far they have not found anybody willing to meet their asking price.
It has been difficult with veteran players still being owed tens of millions on their contracts.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has been tight-lipped about his chances to make a deal before the Deadline, but asked if he expects something to happen, he said, "That's the goal. I think so. As I said before I think we'll be active, but we'll see."
• Right-hander Jeff Manship, who was designated for assignment earlier this week, cleared waivers Friday and has accepted his assignment to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.