Howard and Phils Have Swagger In Their Step

Ryan Howard may be entering his first season as an everyday player, but that doesn't mean he's going to let other players walk all over him. Sunday, Howard stood his ground, nearly leading to a brawl between the Red Sox and Phillies.

First baseman Ryan Howard is a pleasant guy who happens to be 6-foot-4, 255 pounds - pleasant, that is, as long as you don't rub him the wrong way.

Red Sox right-hander Josh Beckett found out that Howard does have a temper when the two nearly came to blows in front of the visiting dugout Sunday in Clearwater.

In the seventh inning, Beckett felt Howard was posing as he watched a long flyball off Beckett that ended up being caught on the warning track. The two exchanged words as Howard jogged back to the dugout, then when the teams switched sides, the confrontation escalated as Howard took the field. Howard put his glove down and moved toward the Red Sox dugout, while Beckett began climbing the steps. The benches and bullpens emptied, but no punches were thrown.

"For me it was over," Howard said. "Then he started popping off again (from the dugout)."

Charlie Manuel, who was a cantankerous player known as the "Red Devil" during his heyday in Japan, liked seeing a little emotion in a late-March exhibition game.

"It's good," Manuel said. "I like our attitude this spring. We got some tempers on our club."

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