The first Ryan Howard appearance Sunday came in the eighth-inning of a blowout.

It was a strange day to sit Howard, though he’s been struggling of late, since Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg is a righty. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said after the game he sat Howard because the first baseman’s knee is still sore.

Howard’s knee is potentially a serious worry for the Phillies. He received a “precautionary” MRI a week ago to see if there was any structural damage in the knee, which had been bothering him for the last couple weeks.

The scan revealed “changes” in his left meniscus, which Phillies trainer Scott Sheridan said at the time was slightly worrisome, but that Howard would remain day-to-day. Howard received a cortisone shot last Sunday, and was back on the field Wednesday in Miami.

He grounded into a double-play in his only action Sunday. Throughout the series in Washington, however, the knee obviously bothered Howard. He looked gimpy for most of the three-game set.

Manuel said it’s possible Howard plays today in Boston.

“There’s a chance he’ll play,” Manuel said. “We’ll see.”

Howard is hitting .254 this season with six home runs and 25 RBIs to go along with a .723 OPS.