When the Philadelphia Philies honor Ryan Howard prior to his final game Sunday afternoon, it's possible that messages from some of his former teammates will be a part of the reported ceremony. Perhaps no one other than Chase Utley could deliver a more meaningful look back at Howard's time with the club than Jimmy Rollins, who thanked Howard publicly Saturday.
Rollins released a statement Saturday to multiple outlets, including to Matt Breen of Philly.com, praising Howard for his time with the Phillies:
"When Ryan first arrived in Philadelphia, he was merely filling in for Jim [Thome] in the eyes of many, but he did not let that opportunity to shine pass him by. He quickly became feared as he won Rookie of the Year and MVP honors in consecutive years and reached 200 home runs quicker than anyone in the history of the game. He loved the pressure and wanted to be the man at the plate when the game mattered most. During our run, we leaned on him many times for big hits and clutch home runs and he found ways to deliver. Ryan never stopped working to better himself and his craft…whether it was getting to field early for extra defensive work or finding that sweet home run stroke. Although he hit a lot of them, he was more than just a power hitter, he was a great teammate!! We all hoped to bring more than one championship to Philadelphia, but without Ryan that one may not have been possible. So, many thanks to “Big Piece” for being such a big piece of the best years of my career in the City of Brotherly Love!!!"
Howard and Rollins, who won consecutive National League MVPs in 2006 and 2007, were teammates for parts of 11 seasons. During their time together, the two future Wall of Famers led the Phillies to five National League East titles, three NLCS appearances, two National League pennants and the 2008 World Series title.