PHILADELPHIA (AP) -NL MVP Ryan Howard was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left quadriceps strain after he was out of the starting lineup for the fifth straight game Saturday.
The Philadelphia Phillies recalled catcher/first baseman Chris Coste from Triple-A Ottawa to take Howard's roster spot. Howard is eligible to come off the disabled list May 25.
``For long-term reasons, we wanted to be cautious with this and let him heal,'' assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said after an 11-7 win over the Chicago Cubs. ``We fully expect him to be 100 percent and ready to go within 15 days.''
Howard slumped this year after hitting .313 with 58 homers and 149 RBIs in one of the best seasons ever for a sophomore player. He's batting just .204 with six homers and 23 RBIs, and has 39 strikeouts in 98 at-bats. Howard's pinch-hit grand slam helped the Phillies beat Arizona on Wednesday. He had one more at-bat in that game but hasn't played since.
Howard also has been bothered by a sprained left knee. An MRI exam on his knee showed no structural damage and another MRI exam on his thigh revealed he had some internal bleeding. Howard initially injured his quadriceps in spring training.
``Nobody wants to get hurt,'' Howard said. ``Only way to get it better is to shut it down. If you keep playing, the worst case is you're out there playing and it gets worse and you're out for the rest of the year. The key is to get healthy.''
Greg Dobbs had a career-best four hits, including a go-ahead two-run triple in the seventh inning, filling in for Howard on Saturday. He'll get some more playing time at first base along with Wes Helms and Coste, who became a fan favorite after finally making it to the majors as a 33-year-old rookie last season.
``I never want to be without Howard for a day or two weeks,'' manager Charlie Manuel said. ``But we have to get him healthy.''

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