Ryan Howard said he is fully aware that baseball fans can have long memories.
Colorado Rockies fans likely remember him best for what he did against their team in the 2009 National League Division Series. The then Philadelphia Phillies first baseman stepped to the plate with two runners on and two outs in the ninth inning, his team trailing 4-2.
Howard crushed a 2-1 pitch for a two-run double off the wall in right field, tying the game. He then came around to score the eventual winning run on Jayson Werth’s bloop single.
Meeting with the media in Albuquerque on Monday afternoon, Howard said he can only hope to earn some redemption with Rockies fans after signing a minor-league deal with Colorado and joining the Isotopes over the weekend.
“That would be great if I could be with the Rockies and say ‘get me to the plate’ in that situation now for Colorado,” Howard said. “I think you can say we’ve kind of come around full circle.”
Howard said the current Rockies remind him a lot of those Phillies teams he played on nearly a decade ago, including the 2008 squad that won the World Series.
“I think the Rockies have a great nucleus of guys,” Howard said. “It’s very, very similar I think to the days back in Philadelphia where we had a young nucleus of guys, a good core group of guys who knew how to win.
“Me getting up there and getting the opportunity to just come along for the ride with those guys, and try to contribute whatever way I can, that’s all you can really ask for right now at this point.”
Howard went 1-for-6 with a double and a run scored Sunday night, his first game with the Isotopes.
“I just want to get back into game situations,” he said. “It’s been a little while. (Sunday) night was my first game situation.
“For myself, going 1-for-6, I was pretty pleased with some of the at-bats. I’m a little bit further ahead than where I thought I would be for not seeing some game action for a while. I’m trying to kind of build on that.”
Right now it is all about getting back into baseball shape, Howard said, adding that he is not worried about when or if the Rockies call him up.
“I just want to continue to get the work and they’ll make the decision upstairs,” he said. Howard said he feels fine physically, even after such a long layoff.
“I felt good running, I felt good playing first,” he said. “Overall, just being in baseball situations I felt good. Getting up here in the altitude a little bit is a little different, so I’ve got to get adjusted to that.”
Howard spent most of the offseason unsigned after becoming a free agent. The Braves finally gave him a chance, sending him to Triple-A Gwinnett, but he was released after going 7-for-38 with 11 strikeouts in 11 games in May.
“I still feel like there’s a lot left in the tank to be able to contribute and contribute in a big way,” Howard said. “For myself personally, it’s about putting up numbers. Now it’s about putting myself in position to do that.”