Howard sought Bonds' advice

For 22 seasons, Barry Bonds tortured the Phillies, hitting .313 with 64 home runs and 155 RBIs in a combined 230 games with Pittsbugh and San Francisco

Now, the controversial slugger might be finally helping the Phillies, thanks to the hitting instructions he gave to Ryan Howard over the winter. During a visit to AT&T Park Sunday, Bonds revealed his work with Howard and the Phillies' first baseman confirmed them before Monday's home opener at Citizens Bank Park.

"Basically for me, it was about trying to learn what it is that he's done over his career -- just sit back and listen," Howard said.

Howard initiated the meeting with a phone call and said Bonds was immediately agreeable to flying from San Francisco to Tampa, where the two men worked on hitting at a local college.

Howard made the phone call to Bonds and asked him if he wanted to come to Tampa and work. Howard said the sessions lasted about a week.

"The things that he taught me were a lot of staying with basics," Howard said. "Continuing to stay with basics and work with a purpose. It was a lot of just basic stuff."

Whether it was manager Charlie Manuel's encourgagement to get Howard to move closer to the plate, hitting instructor Milt Thompson's insistence on getting the slugger to hit the ball more to the opposite field or Bonds' words of wisdom, the first-week results were spectacular. Howard went into the home opener batting .357 with three home runs and 10 RBIs.

"The thing (Bonds) told me was just basically finding the spot where you're comfortable," Howard said. "I know Charlie has told me to move closer and in some games I've been a little closer and in some games further away. It's about finding that nice comfort zone."

Rollins not in lineup

After being introduced as the leadoff hitter during the home-opener festivities, shortstop Jimmy Rollins did not take his position behind Cole Hamels for the start of the game. Juan Castro is making his first start of the season in Rollins' place.