Howard steps up for literacy, says return unknown

Howard steps up for literacy, says return unknown

Howard steps up for literacy, says return unknown

PHILADELPHIA -- Many of Ryan Howard's teammates showed up for his charity event, "Stand Up for Literacy," at the Franklin Institute on Monday, including Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins.

Howard hosted the event with his wife, Krystle, a former second-grade teacher, and the goal was to engage more young students in literacy.

"If kids can't read by the third grade, they're more likely to fail, not graduate high school and kind of suffer through life," Howard said. "This was a very important component for us that we felt needed to be addressed."

Howard has not been able to join his teammates on the field lately, but he has had to watch the Phillies lose eight in a row, and fall to seven games below the .500 mark.

Howard was placed on the disabled list with a torn meniscus in his left knee on July 6, and the slugger had a successful operation performed four days later. The knee was bothering the 33-year-old first baseman for a while before the surgery, and while Howard wants to help end the Phillies' struggles, he also wants to be 100 percent.

"That's first and foremost for me right now, to get healthy," Howard said Monday.

"I've been playing hurt for like the last year and a half, so that's the key. My heart goes out for the guys, I know they're going out there and trying. It hasn't been pretty."

The original timetable for Howard's return was six to eight weeks, which would have had him back on the field by the end of August. He said the knee is getting better "slowly but surely," and he is rehabbing, but Howard does not know when he will rejoin the Phillies.

"I don't have a timetable for it," Howard said. "I'm just going to wait until I don't feel any more pain."

Howard was hitting .266 with 11 homers, 43 RBIs and a .784 OPS in 80 games before being sidelined.

Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.