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Howard, Utley unlikely to be back before July

Howard, Utley unlikely to be back before July

Howard, Utley unlikely to be back before July
PHILADELPHIA -- Ryan Howard is in Clearwater, Fla., rehabbing from left Achilles surgery. He has not been available to reporters, but he offered his own progress report on his podcast Friday.

"Rehab is going very well," he said. "I've been hitting in simulated games, still doing all my baseball stuff. The leg is getting a lot stronger and it's coming along. I've been doing a little bit of running, some light jogging, trying to get back into that. I think the last thing to kind of come will be the running and be able to step it up and turn it into sprints. Things are looking on the up and up. I'm happy with where things are right now."

Chase Utley, who has a chronic left knee condition, continues to work out with the big league club. The Phillies said he is making progress, although general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said it is unlikely he will be back before the end of June.

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Amaro offered a similar assessment earlier this week for Howard's return, meaning it is unlikely either player will return before July 1.

Utley has been in the outfield occasionally during batting practice, chasing down balls, but he isn't eager to discuss it. Asked a couple times about possibly playing left field in the future, he told reporters, "I haven't thought too much about it."

Players like Robin Yount and Chipper Jones successfully moved from the infield to the outfield, and perhaps a similar move could save Utley's knees and keep him in the lineup.

Asked about Utley possibly moving to the outfield, Amaro also seemed reluctant to talk about the possibility, "I don't know. It's a tough thing to ask this guy. He's never done it. I couldn't tell you. I don't know. It's a tough message to send him. I know that."

In what way?

"To ask a guy to move a position," Amaro said. "I'm not sure whether it does take pressure off [the knee] or not, whether it changes. But it's awfully tough after a guy who's never really played in the outfield -- he's been in the big leagues 10 years now, playing second base and however long he played in college -- to all of a sudden say, 'Hey, he's going to play another position.' It's tough."

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