Phils give updates on improving Howard, Utley

Phils give updates on improving Howard, Utley

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies still have no timetable for Ryan Howard or Chase Utley to return to the lineup.

But general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. offered an update on both before Wednesday's game against the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.

Howard, who is recovering from an infection following left Achilles surgery, visited foot and ankle specialist Mark Myerson on Tuesday in Baltimore. Amaro said Howard's Achilles is "doing great." But the first baseman still has a wound in the back of his left heel following the surgical procedure that removed sutures that had not properly dissolved and caused an infection.

"It's not all the way healed," Amaro said. "That's the priority right now: Get the wound healed. Once that gets healed up, we'll be pretty aggressive with him."

The Phillies will confer with wound specialists at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital to determine Howard's next progression. Howard is fielding ground balls, but has not tried running or hitting.

Amaro said the wound has not taken longer than expected to heal.

"It was so deep, you could almost stick your fingers in there," Amaro said.

Utley, who continues to battle chronic knee problems, is rehabbing in Arizona. Amaro said Utley's strength in his left knee, which is bothering him, has improved. Utley had not been able to work on his strength during Spring Training because of pain in the knee.

Amaro said the Phillies will know more about Utley's progress when they see him during their upcoming West Coast road trip through San Francisco, San Diego and Arizona. The GM also said he does not know how much Utley will be limited once he returns to action, if at all.

Amaro would not say if he thought either Howard or Utley was ahead of the other in regards to rehab and returning to action. The Phillies certainly could use both of them in the lineup. The offense has struggled through the season's first four games.

"Our goal is try to get both of these guys to the point where they're on rehab [assignments] and playing, so we can assess what we're going to get out of them," Amaro said. "But until that happens, we won't know what kind of players they'll be until they're out here playing."