8/6/2014 1:42 A.M. ET
Howard resumes role as full-time first baseman
By Austin Laymance and Erik Bacharach / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Ryan Howard is still struggling at the plate, but Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg is no longer talking about the possibility of a platoon at first base.
Howard was benched for three straight games July 23-25, when Sandberg said he wanted to see what Darin Ruf could do. Since then, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has said he expects Howard to be the club's first baseman in 2015, and Howard has started nine of the last 10 games, including Tuesday night against Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel.
Howard entered the game 1-for-25 with one RBI over his last seven starts. But he showed signs of breaking out of that slump with a solo home run to left-center in his first at-bat on Tuesday night and then a walk-off single in the 15th inning as the Phillies won, 2-1.
Sandberg said before the game he had not been considering removing Howard from the cleanup spot. That decision worked to the Phillies' advantage on Tuesday.
"People forget what I've done," Howard said after the win. "Ryno has played the game. He knows. He knows the ups and downs of the game and he knows you're going to have good days and bad days. For me, I'm just going to go out there and grind it out. I'm going to hit balls that are unfortunately going to go into the shift and balls back up the middle that guys are going to make plays on. All you can try to do is hit it hard and hopefully hit it where they're not."
What happened to the notion of a platoon at first base between Howard and Ruf?
"Well, I didn't say it was going to be a platoon, I said it was going to be a possibility somewhere down the road," Sandberg said. "I want the best for both players and for Ryan Howard to get going and for Darin Ruf to get at-bats. It's a little bit of a process, but looking to help the players."
While the general manager has publicly supported Howard, Sandberg said the front office has not mandated him to keep baseball's highest paid player in the lineup.
"No, the reason for the rest was for him to regroup and make some adjustments, which he continues to search for and continues to do," Sandberg said. "So hopefully he gets it going."
Brown returns after second throat infection
PHILADELPHIA -- Domonic Brown is still recovering from an infection in his throat, but is feeling much better after missing the past three games and grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning of Tuesday night's game against the Astros.
"All the stuff in the throat is pretty much gone, little bit of body aching, that's really about it," Brown said.
It is the second time Brown has dealt with a throat infection in the past month.
"I'm pretty sure I'm going to have my tonsils removed after the season," Brown said. "The doc was saying they were the size of a 13-year-old kid. They're supposed to get smaller as you get older. I don't know, man. I'm just trying to take it day by day, trying to get my butt back out there and play with my teammates. But it's good to be back around the guys instead of being at home."
A season after hitting .272 with 27 homers en route to an All-Star selection, Brown has taken a step back in 2014 with a .230 average and seven homers through 103 games.
Once he's fully recovered, Brown will jump back into what has become a revolving door situation in left field.
"As far as going forward, we make up lineups to get guys in there. Keep everybody sharp in at-bats," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "It's always good when somebody gets hot. Not only that, we're still looking for guys to get hot down the stretch here."
Brown went down just as he was beginning to heat up. In his last 23 games, the left-fielder is hitting .280 (21-for-75) with four doubles, two homers and 12 RBIs.
Despite his overall struggles this season, Brown has provided value when he's been in the Phillies lineup, with his team-leading .311 average (28-for-90) with runners in scoring position translating into 50 RBIs, good for fourth on the team.
With two months left in the season, Sandberg was asked whether Brown still has enough time to reestablish himself as the leading candidate to be the everyday left fielder in 2015.
"I would say that [left field] is open right now. So that would be yes," Sandberg said. "I don't think there's a solid concrete guy as far as that goes. That's why there's some rotation out there. Giving everybody opportunities. We've been doing that up to this point anyway. We'll probably continue throughout the rest of the season."
One of the players who figures to be apart of that rotation is John Mayberry Jr., who is also working his way back to the field. Mayberry has been on the DL since June 22 with left wrist inflammation.
"Mayberry did some extra hitting out here. He's going to hit in the cage off of the machine with a little bit of velocity," Sandberg said. "Then we need to get together and see the best thing for him going forward is as far as being ready to play here. Whether it's more of that to see how he reacts it, or if he needs to go play a couple of games somewhere to get ready. That's yet to be talked about."
• Cliff Lee, who was placed on the DL on Aug. 1 with a recurrence of a flexor pronator strain in his left elbow, underwent a doctor's examination on Saturday, but Sandberg said that "there wasn't a whole lot that was revealed."
Lee will have to undergo an MRI, but a date has yet to be scheduled.
Sandberg and the Phillies are operating under the premise that Lee has thrown his last pitch this season.
"Since it's a re-occurrence and the last one took two months, that's the reality," Sandberg said.
Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jalaymance. Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.