Howard: Ankle is '98 percent,' could stand closer to the plate

Ryan Howard said he is "negotiating" moving closer to the plate, as suggested by Charlie Manuel. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Ryan Howard addressed the media for the first time since the National League Championship Series ended, and he had some interesting things to say.

Two key points:

1) His ankle is good to go

2) He is considering standing closer to the plate this season

The ankle is something that has drawn a lot of attention ever since he sprained it against the Nationals in late-July. He returned three weeks later, but Charlie Manuel said this offseason that the injury continued to bother him during the stretch run and playoffs.

"That doesn't really matter any more now," Howard said. "We're here. I'm not going to make any excuses about my ankle or anything like that. What is 100 percent? No. But to me, it doesn't matter. I just go out there and try to do the best that I can and not make excuses."

Howard said the ankle still isn't 100 percent, although he said he doesn't feel limited at all.

"The ankle is good. The ankle is really good," he said. "It's pretty much 98 percent. There is a little bit of tightness, a little bit of soreness every once in awhile, but it's good to go."

Howard disputed the notion that he had a down season last year, pointing out that he missed close to a month. But he did say that he has been working on his swing throughout the offseason.

"Right now, it's all about just getting the feel right," he said. "I've been hitting closer to the plate during the entire offseason. Just getting a feel for it."

Manuel has at times suggested that Howard move closer to the plate. Whether Howard makes the adjustment permanent remains to be seen.

"We're negotiating that," he said with a laugh. "We're negotiating getting closer to the plate."

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