There are two things Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard has on his mind for the Phillies' Thursday arrival in St. Louis for the start of a four-game series with the Cardinals.
The St. Louis native is excited to return to his favorite eating spots and more than prepared to hit at Busch Stadium.
"I have my spots that I used to eat at all the time," Howard said. "I hadn't been there the last couple of seasons, so it's going to be fun to go home and see friends -- that whole spiel -- and play at Busch Stadium."
Howard, who is hitting .238 with 13 home runs this season, hasn't returned to his hometown to play at Busch Stadium over the past two seasons. An Achilles injury kept him out in 2012, and it was a left knee injury last season.
When Howard has played at Busch Stadium III, the results have been staggering. Across six seasons as a visiting player in St. Louis -- between 2006 and '11 -- Howard has hit .368 with nine home runs and 35 RBIs over 26 games. The .368 mark is the best average Howard has posted at any National League park.
While St. Louis brings familiarity for Howard, Cardinals starter Shelby Miller does not. Miller has never faced the left-handed slugger.
After struggling at times with mechanics and focus earlier this season, Miller has settled into a groove in his last two starts. He followed up his second career complete game with 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball on Saturday against the Nationals.
"I think some of the lumps he's taken earlier this year taught him how to be a better pitcher," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said after Miller's latest outing. "I think, more than anything else, it's been his mental approach. I've seen a focus from him that we haven't necessarily seen before."
Miller's counterpart, rookie David Buchanan, will be trying to limit the long ball. The right-hander has allowed seven homers in five starts this year, including three solo drives in his last outing.
Phillies: Pettibone undergoes right shoulder surgery
Right-hander Jonathan Pettibone stabilized Philadelphia's rotation last season with 18 starts.
Pettibone, however, has since been hindered by right shoulder problems, which culminated with surgery.
Orthopedist James Andrews performed repair of Pettibone's Type II SLAP (Superior Labral Antero-Posterior) tear, the most common kind, featuring a complete tear of the labrum.
The Phillies are hopeful Pettibone can be ready to pitch by Spring Training 2015.
Cardinals: Martinez, Greenwood ready out of 'pen
Carlos Martinez and Nick Greenwood will both be available to pitch out of the Cardinals' bullpen on Thursday.
Martinez had been unavailable after pitching four innings in a spot start on Monday, when he filled in for Adam Wainwright, who was scratched due to right elbow tendinitis. Martinez threw 59 pitches in the outing.
Greenwood, making his Major League debut on Monday, tossed 60 pitches over 3 1/3 relief innings to earn the win.
• Miller has limited experience against Phillies hitters. They have gone a combined 4-for-20 (.200) against the right-hander. Miller has made one start against the Phillies, going six innings while allowing no runs on three hits.
• Cardinals starters haven't allowed more than two runs in the last six games.
• The Phillies enter their four-game series in St. Louis coming off a three-game sweep of the Braves. In that series, Philadelphia combined to score 21 runs, including 10 in the finale.
Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.