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MLB notebook: Phillies' Howard gets some help

| Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, 9:03 p.m.

Phillies great Mike Schmidt is in spring camp for a month and is spending quality time with Ryan Howard.

Schmidt is working with the Phillies slugger on making more contact at the plate, especially late in games.

Howard hit only .143 after the sixth inning last year. He struck out 45 times in those 84 at-bats.

Schmidt says he's hoping Howard can put more balls in play and cut down on fouls that leave him in two-strike counts.

Outfield switch for Yankees?

Yankees outfielders Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner could be switching positions.

Granderson worked out in left field Thursday, and the speedy Gardnerson switched to center.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi plans to play the pair together in upcoming spring training games.

Said Girardi: “I think it has a chance to help us a little bit, but I'm not really sure. ... That's why I've said from the beginning that I'm going to toy with it.”

Union head cautions media

Baseball union head Michael Weiner said reporters should refrain from jumping to conclusions about media reports linking players to a Florida anti-aging clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs.

Starting his annual tour of the 30 spring training camps, Weiner cautioned that Major League Baseball is still investigating Biogenesis of America, a defunct anti-aging clinic in Coral Gables, Fla.

“The players understand that what's happening in Miami at this point remains to be seen in terms of fairness and judging things on the evidence,” Weiner said Thursday. “But there is a lot of talk in the clubhouse about where we should be on the joint drug program, and that's a good thing.”

Hart hopes for fast recovery

Corey Hart hopes to be back in the Brewers' lineup sooner than expected, even though he has a brace on his right knee and needs crutches to get around the clubhouse.

Hart said he's always pretty positive and doesn't think it's unrealistic to think he could be ready to play in late April.

Hart, who had surgery Jan. 22 to repair a torn meniscus and other damage to the joint in his right knee, said Thursday he wants to beat the odds and come back as fast as he can. He is scheduled to have an MRI in about two weeks.

Manager Ron Roenicke said he'll still count on getting the first baseman back in late May but that it would be great for that to be earlier.

Cueto blocked from WBC

The Reds blocked ace Johnny Cueto from pitching for the Dominican Republic in next month's World Baseball Classic.

Cueto strained his right oblique eight pitches into last October's division series against San Francisco. Because he finished the year with an injury, the Reds had the right to block him from playing in the WBC.

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