U.S. bypasses Ryan Howard, who was interested

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Philadelphia Phillies' Ryan Howard follows through after hitting a three-run home run off Toronto Blue Jays' Brett Cecil during the fifth inning of a spring training exhibition baseball game on Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Clearwater, Fla. Philadelphia won 13-5. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

CLEARWATER, Fla. — When Mark Teixeira injured his wrist before the United States even played an exhibition game in advance of the World Baseball Classic, it left the team with a hole at first base.

American officials settled on Kansas City's Eric Hosmer as the replacement Wednesday and never contacted the Phillies regarding Ryan Howard.

Howard, who was speculated as an option, was definitely interested.

"It's always a great situation to represent your country but coming off the injury, the team may have concerns," Howard said. "My personal opinion, I would love to. But I'm not sure how all of that works."

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said the team would not have approved the move without a conversation about Howard's readiness. That talk never needed to happen.

When asked if Howard could have handled the WBC in his first spring since Achilles surgery, Amaro said, "He's still getting his legs underneath him. I'm not sure if he's ready to play at that level of competition."

The Untied States plays its first game of the tournament Friday in Phoenix against Mexico.

Howard was in the lineup Wednesday for the 13th time in 13 days. Charlie Manuel has stressed the importance of Howard gaining his "game legs" as the reasoning for his frequent play. Howard is hitting .333 (10 for 30) with three home runs and three doubles in Grapefruit League play.


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