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Howell going slow this spring

Posted Feb 28, 2010 by Roger Mooney

Updated Feb 28, 2010 at 05:23 PM

J.P. Howell has high expectations for himself this season, which is why he’s taking it slow this spring.

The left-handed reliever will throw only his second bullpen today. The left-hander is behind the rest of the pitchers and that’s by design.

“I want to get 80 appearances this year. Why have 10 more in the spring?” Howell said. “I don’t want to pitch 90 games this year adding the spring, so I want to go seven appearances here, maybe six, and go into the year.”

Howell has thrown 156 innings in 133 appearances over the past two seasons. That’s the most innings in the majors by a lefty reliever. Also, his 69 appearances last season were a career-high.

“We’re just trying to put the brakes on it a little bit,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “I want to make sure he’s strong at the end of the season.”

The two-year workload took its toll on the 6-foot, 180-pound Howell last August. He pitched just 12 times after Aug. 21 (1-2, 7.88 ERA, three blown saves) and was shutdown for the final 10 games of the season.

“I was just fatigued and weak, and I wanted to strengthen everything to make sure we got it under control,” Howell said. “Now we are, so it’s ‘OK. Now we can go.’ It’s not arm issues. It’s just one of those things where they know what they’re doing, their being smart for me once again. They need to look out for me. I’ll never say no, that’s the problem.”

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