8/16/2014 8:49 P.M. ET
Howard keeps up hot hitting vs. SF's Hudson
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- One sure bet in baseball Saturday had Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard in the lineup against Giants right-hander Tim Hudson.
Howard hits Hudson.
Howard had two hits and three RBIs in three plate appearances against Hudson in Saturday's 6-5 loss at AT&T Park. Entering the game, he had hit .328 (22-for-67) with three doubles, seven home runs, 17 RBIs, 12 walks, 11 strikeouts, a .425 on-base percentage and a .687 slugging percentage in his career against Hudson, whom he has faced more than any other pitcher.
But what also made Howard's spot in the lineup secure is he did not play the last time the Phillies faced Hudson on July 24 in Philadelphia. That happened in the middle of Howard's short-lived, three-game benching when Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said he wanted to see others play more at first base.
"In all likelihood, at least after today, it will be a scenario of ... I'd be considering a platoon system at first base," Sandberg said July 24.
But after Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said the following day that he expected Howard to be the team's Opening Day first baseman in 2015, Sandberg scrapped the plan to give others a look, and Howard has played nearly every day since.
Amaro and Sandberg have both said the manager was not ordered to play Howard regularly.
"That was a decision Ryno made, and I'm on board," Amaro said this week. "Ryan Howard has to be a productive Ryan Howard to move forward. ... The offense is not all on his shoulders, but he's a very important part of our offense. He's one of the most productive players in the league. He can be more productive. I think he knows that. Our job is to try to get more productive players around him, and for him to continue to improve. He's still working on doing some things, which will make him a more consistent hitter. And he's got a month and a half to continue to work on those things to get to a level where we want him to be."
Howard is third in the National League with 77 RBIs, despite ranking 129th out of 151 qualifying players in baseball with a .668 OPS. He had hit .181 (13-for-72) with two doubles, three home runs, 14 RBIs and a .598 OPS in 19 games since the July 23-25 benching, which includes a pair of walkoff hits at Citizens Bank Park.
Phils acquire 2B prospect as part of Hernandez deal
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Phillies announced Saturday evening they acquired Class A second baseman Jesmuel Valentin from the Dodgers as the first of two players to be named in the Roberto Hernandez trade.
MLB.com ranked Valentin as the No. 13 prospect in the Dodgers' organization.
Selected 51st overall as a supplement pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, Valentin was hitting .282 with 22 doubles, nine triples, seven home runs, 47 RBIs and a .785 OPS in 107 games with Great Lakes.
He struggled in 33 games with Great Lakes last season, posting a .618 OPS, but has improved at the plate this year.
Valentin will report to Class A Clearwater.
Top prospect Crawford still sidelined with ankle sprain
SAN FRANCISCO -- Class A Advanced Clearwater shortstop J.P. Crawford has not played since Monday because of a sprained left ankle.
It is not believed to be serious. Crawford reportedly felt better Saturday and is day to day.
"I'm not sure how much longer it is going to take," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said before Saturday's game against the Giants at AT&T Park. "We're not overly concerned."
Crawford is the No. 1 prospect in the organization. The 19-year-old is hitting .274 with four doubles, six home runs, 18 RBIs and a .743 OPS in 48 games with Clearwater since a midseason promotion from Class A Lakewood.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.