Progress of Utley, Howard will shape Phils' plan

Progress of Utley, Howard will shape Phils' plan

NEW YORK -- Charlie Manuel said the Phillies can use more pitching like every other team in baseball.

That holds especially true after they placed Roy Halladay on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a strained right latissimus dorsi. But it sounds like the Phillies will go with what they have until Halladay returns in six to eight weeks.

Asked if he would take a hitter or pitcher if the Phillies had only one trade to make, Manuel thought long and hard before he said, "Being as I think we're going to get [Chase] Utley and [Ryan] Howard back, I think I'd take a pitcher. But at the same time, I don't think you guys realize the pitcher that I want. I want somebody that's going to help us -- I don't want a player that's the same player, making a deal just to make a deal. I want a player. I want a consistent player. If he's a consistent pitcher, or if he's a consistent position player, that's fine."

The Phillies said they expect Utley and Howard to play this season, despite the fact there still is no timetable for their returns.

"When [Utley] tells us he's ready to go on a rehab assignment, that's when he's going to go," Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. "But as far as I know, he's been making progress and he's heading in the right direction. Ryan just has to continue to strengthen the calf. It's atrophied from not being able to move around on it with the infection and the Achilles. But he's doing everything in the field, he's running some now as well. It's just a matter of strengthening it."

Howard has been hitting in simulated games the last four or five days.

"I don't have a crystal ball, but our expectation is we'll get them both back at some point," Proefrock said.

Asked if the uncertainty surrounding Utley and Howard makes it difficult to know how to proceed before the July 31 non-waive Trade Deadline, Proefrock said, "Honestly, we've talked about a lot of different scenarios. I haven't gotten the feeling that in any of those scenarios where it's really entered into our thought process that we have to think about a way of replacing them if they don't come back. As I said, in the offseason, we anticipated Ryan's situation. That's why we made some of the moves we made. Freddy [Galvis] has done a tremendous job at second base. If we don't get those guys back, I'm not so sure those are necessarily our top priorities of things we need to do."