Ryan Howard will step up his injury rehab in the coming week and Chase Utley might not be far behind.
Howard has been cleared for baseball activities. He will travel to Florida on Sunday and shift his workouts to the Phillies training facility in Clearwater on Monday.
Utley, meanwhile, could join the Phils for workouts in the next week or so, according to general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. Utley would spend a handful of days going through pre-game workouts with the club and being evaluated by the teams athletic training staff before heading to Florida to increase his baseball preparation.
Amaro cautioned that neither player has had a spring training and that it will take time before both are ready for major-league game action. But, Amaro did concede that were seeing a little bit of a light at the end of tunnel.
Howard had surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon in October then another surgical procedure in late February to clean out an infection that developed after a suture from the initial surgery failed to dissolve properly.
Utley has been slowed by a chronic cartilage issue in his knees, particularly his left knee. He has spent the month of April working with a physical therapist in Arizona and made good progress. Utley visited with his teammates in Phoenix last week and the smile on his face seldom seen in recent months confirmed that.
Hes done pretty darn well, Amaro said.
Howard will start off fielding ground balls and throwing. He will not hit for a few days, until he gets his legs under him, Amaro said. Everything that Howard does at first will be under a controlled setting. He will build toward getting at-bats and playing the field in extended spring training games, but there is no timetable for that. Howard has not done any running. He will have to work toward sprinting.
Utley missed the first 46 games with the same condition last season. He played in just nine minor-league games in Florida before being activated. Amaro indicated that Utley would need more than that this time.
Team officials will not estimate when Howard or Utley will be ready to play in the majors. Injury recoveries are just too unpredictable. Sometime in June is a safe, albeit broad, outside estimate.
E-mail Jim Salisbury at firstname.lastname@example.org