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Ryan Howard Is Next: Slugger Closes in on Rehab Assignment

Jun 26, 2012, 6:13 PM EDT

The latest news on when Ryan Howard could return to the diamond -- and it might be sooner than you think!

Chase Utley is expected to rejoin the Phillies tomorrow, and almost on cue, here’s some more good news on the injury front. Multiple beats are reporting Ryan Howard will be in Philadelphia on Wednesday as well, only he’ll be having testing performed on his Achilles.

If Howard passes, he could begin his rehab assignment in Lakewood on Thursday.

“If” is obviously a very important qualifier in that statement, but “if” all goes well, Howard would be rejoining the big club sometime in July after the All-Star break.

The Phillies have sorely missed Howad’s bat in the lineup, whether it’s the timely RBIs, the protection his presence provides over other hitters, or simply the threat of clearing the bases on any given swing. That said, it’s not a given he can come in and be that guy right away given his injury.

Still, it looks like this team is going to need all hands on deck if they are going to claw their way into post-season contention. If nothing else, it keeps an air of excitement around the team that has seldom existed on the field this year.