Howard back in the cleanup spot

(Al Bello/Getty Images)

After three days of watching Darin Ruf take his spot at first base, Ryan Howard returned to manager Ryne Sandberg's lineup Saturday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Howard, hitting .224 overall and .156 this month, was benched for three games starting Wednesday night and Sandberg indicated that the $25-million first baseman could be part of a platoon with Ruf. The Phillies faced a lefthander in two of the three games Howard was on the bench, but he also sat against San Francisco's Tim Hudson Thursday. Howard has had consistent success against Hudson throughout his career.

The Phillies are facing Arizona righthander Josh Collmenter Saturday. Howard has one hit, a walk and two strikeouts in six career plate appearances against Collmenter. Ruf was 2-for-8 with a walk, three strikeouts and an RBI during the three games he started in place of Howard.

It will be interesting to see what Sandberg does Sunday at first base when the Phillies face lefthander Vidal Nuno in the series finale with Arizona. Ruf will be back in the lineup for that game if this is a true platoon.