SAN FRANCISCO Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. offered some mildly encouraging news on Ryan Howards condition Monday, but the slugging first baseman still has not been cleared to ramp up baseball activities.Howard, who on Feb. 27 had a procedure to clean out an infection around the area of his surgically repaired left Achilles tendon, was examined by a wound specialist in Philadelphia on Monday. Amaro declined to name the specialist.In short, Amaro said, Howard still has a wound on the back of his ankle. It is getting smaller, but it has not healed to the point where doctors are comfortable letting him run or swing a bat.Its still healing, Amaro said. Hes doing well. Well continue on the same deal.Amaro shed some light on the procedure that was performed on Howard in February. Apparently, doctors dug deeply around Howards Achilles tendon to make sure all the infection was removed.The biggest challenge is getting the wound to the skin, Amaro said. For how deep it was, its getting pretty close. The wound cant skin over until it gets to the skin. Thats the last thing to happen.When that happens, Howard will increase his baseball activities. He has been taking ground balls and playing catch, but thats about it.There is no timetable for Howards returning to the lineup.In other injury matters, Chase Utley continues to rehab his sore knees with a physical therapist in Arizona. He likely will visit with the team in Phoenix next week, but there is no timetable for his return.E-mail Jim Salisbury at email@example.com.
Howard improving, but not ready to run or swing
April 17, 2012, 2:00 am