CLEARWATER, Fla. — At least for the early part of spring training, Ryan Howard is showing his pre-injury form.
Howard hit a go-ahead, three-run homer off Brett Cecil that cleared the back fence and went out of Bright House Field, helping a Philadelphia Phillies’ split squad beat the Toronto Blue Jays 13-5 Sunday.
“He’s starting to get his legs under him,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “He’s getting his stroke.”
Howard’s fifth-inning drive put the Phillies ahead 6-4. After missing spring training and the first half of last season while recovering from a torn left Achilles tendon, Howard is hitting .417 (10 for 24) with three homers, three doubles and 10 RBIs in nine exhibition games this year.
Domonic Brown also hit his third spring training homer, a solo shot in the fourth off left-hander Aaron Loup. Competing for a starting outfield job, Brown is batting .350 (7 for 20) in nine games.
“He shows you power,” Manuel said. “He just has to get more consistent and so far this spring, he’s really looked good.”
Jose Bautista and Mark DeRosa homered for the Blue Jays. Bautista, who played in just six games after the All-Star break last year due to a wrist injury, has two home runs in six games during the exhibition season.
Bautista’s home run came off 34-year-old right-hander Aaron Cook, with the Phillies on a minor league contract.
Cook allowed four runs— three earned — and seven hits in four innings.
Barring injuries, the Phillies’ projected rotation includes Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan.
“I’d love to be a starter, but if the opportunity comes to do something else, I’ll take the ball whenever they give it to me,” Cook said.
Justin De Fratus pitched a scoreless fifth for the win.
Toronto’s Ricky Romero, one of the few holdovers in the Blue Jays’ new-look rotation, made his second spring training start and gave up one run and one hit in two innings.
“I felt good,” Romero said. “I felt like the delivery is smoothing out a lot better. It’s a work in progress.”
NOTES: Phillies INFs Michael Young and Freddy Galvis as the other squad lost to Baltimore 12-3 in Sarasota, where RHP Kyle Kendrick allowed four runs and four hits — including two home runs — in two innings. LHP Jeremy Horst, competing for a bullpen, also allowed two home runs. He gave up six runs and four hits in two-thirds of an inning. … The Phillies made three errors Sunday and have 13 in 10 games. … Toronto’s Emilio Bonifacio stole his first two bases of spring training. … RHP Justin Germano allowed four runs and five hits in one inning, and LHP Alex Hinshaw gave up three runs and two hits in the eighth.