It's currently a make-or-break stretch for the Phillies, and they need all the help they can get to try and make a push in the National League East.
They could get a big bump from their biggest slugger, as Phils GM Ruben Amaro said on Thursday that "it's possible" that first baseman Ryan Howard could return this weekend.
“I guess it’s possible,” Amaro said, via Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. “But we’ll see how he feels the next day or so.”
Amaro also said that Howard, who has played in six games at Single-A and Triple-A, is doing well in his rehab assignment. Per Zolecki, he'll play in back-to-back games on Thursday and Friday and Philadelphia could make a determination to bring him up after that.
“He’s been progressing pretty good,” Amaro said. “We’ll see how he feels after tonight.”
The Phillies required Chase Utley to play in back-to-back games before bringing him up -- Zolecki notes there's no telling whether or not the Phils will require Howard to do the same, but if he gets brought up after playing Friday, it's pretty clear that was the plan.
And Amaro sounded confident about the possibility of the return saying he thinks Howard is "ready."
“I think he thinks he’s ready,” Amaro said. “But we’ll see. We’re still talking with the docs and have people evaluating him every day. … If he plays this weekend (for the Phillies), it may not be the worst thing for him to get some time off. You just don’t know how he’ll react and what kind of adrenaline there will be.
"We’ll take it one day at a time with him.”
It's surprising to hear the Phillies preach patience given that they're 12 games out in the division and they desperately need to start making a small run in order to keep the gap close, provided they don't want to turn into sellers.
But their actions speak louder than words, and if Howard ends up playing this quickly, it may be a clear sign that they know how urgent things are.