Ryan Howard could be in uniform by Thursday

Posted: June 28, 2012

RYAN HOWARD could be 3 weeks behind Chase Utley in the parade of injured Phillies stars marching back to the team.

The first baseman will be examined by Phillies doctors Wednesday. If cleared, he will play for Class A Lakewood on Thursday. That would officially begin his minor league rehab assignment.

Howard, sidelined by a ruptured Achilles' tendon and subsequent infection in the surgical wound, would have a maximum of 20 days to spend in the minors. If he plays Thursday, it's reasonable to expect him in uniform when the Phillies begin a six-game homestand July 20 — or even before then.

Charlie Manuel spoke to Howard on Monday and said he expected his slugger to return shortly after the All-Star break.

"He says he's feeling real good," the Phillies manager said. "He told me when he runs he has a little limp. He says, ‘I want to play and I feel like I can play. I don't know if I'll be where you want me to be or not.' He has to go play. He has to be able to do some things.

“He feels like he's getting there. He's very positive about where he's at."

Howard may not regain his full strength until 2013. But Manuel will gladly take his presence in the middle of his lineup. That appears to be nearing. n

Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @magelb.

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