Amaro: June return unlikely for Phils' Howard


NEW YORKAfter weeks of not wanting to put a timetable on Ryan Howards potential return to the lineup, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. offered a hint on Wednesday.

Amaro was asked if he believed Howard could be back before the end of June.

I dont believe so, he said. I dont think so.

Could Howard be back by the All-Star break?

I dont know, Amaro said.

The Phillies play their last game before the All-Star break on July 8 and resume play again on July 13.

It sounds as if that may be a reasonable timetable for Howards returnprovided everything continues to go well as he builds strength after requiring surgery in October to repair a ruptured left Achilles tendon. Howard had been ahead of schedule in his recovery and team officials were hoping for a May return before the slugger developed an infection in the area of the surgical incision. He had a separate surgical procedure to clear out the infection and that, along with the treatment the infection required, slowed his recovery.

Howard is currently rehabbing in Clearwater. He is running, hitting and fielding. The Phillies are being very cautious with him because his calf had suffered some atrophy when he was immobilized and he needs to rebuild that strength.

Ryan has improved every day and he continues to improve, Amaro said. The goal is to get him as close to 100 percent as possible. But we cant control the timing.

As for Chase Utley, he continues to work out with the Phillies. He has increased the level of intensity in his infield work and is taking more ground balls and adding more range work. Amaro said there is still no timetable for Utley to report to Florida to play in minor-league games.

Hopefully it will be fairly soon, Amaro said. He seems to be doing better and better every day.

Jim Thome continues to make strides in his recovery from a lower back strain. He is seeing live pitching in extended spring-training games and could see action as the Phillies designated hitter during interleague play June 8-17.
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