Phillies Notebook: Ryan Howard healing, no timetable for return

Ryan Howard’s surgically repaired left Achilles is improving every day.

But there’s still no exact timetable for his return to the Phillies’ lineup.

“He saw Dr. [Mark] Myerson [Tuesday] and his Achilles is doing great,” GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said before Wednesday’s game against the Marlins. “His strength is increasing and the wound is improved. That’s the priority right now, getting the wound healed. We’re going to talk with the wound specialist at Jefferson and the folks who have been treating it and we’ll know more [Thursday] about how it’s doing and what his next progressions are.”

Howard has been playing catch, fielding ground balls and even jumping rope. While he’s getting better, it’s a matter of taking things day-by-day. Especially when you consider how significant the injury was.

“The wound was pretty deep and I didn’t have a great grasp on it,” Amaro said. “The wound was so deep you could stick your finger in it. That’s how deep the wound was. The wound heals from in to out so it’s taken time.”

Amaro also provided an update on second baseman Chase Utley, who is recovering from chondromalacia with a physical therapist in Arizona. The Phillies begin an 11-game road trip in San Francisco on Monday.

Again, no timetable was given for Utley’s return.

“His strength is getting better,” Amaro said. “That was something he wasn’t able to work on when he was kind of in the discomfort mode. His strength is better, he’s becoming more stable and he’s progressing and we’ll know more about it when we see him on the west coast.”

Manuel sticks with same lineup

Despite scoring just two runs in Monday’s 6-2 loss to the Marlins, manager Charlie Manuel wasn’t deterred. In fact, he penciled in the same exact lineup Wednesday night: Juan Pierre, Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino, John Mayberry Jr., Carlos Ruiz, Freddy Galvis.

“I played 20 years and if you take me out because I go 0-for-4 and let me sit a day or two days, likely when I get back in there I’ll be trying too hard,” Manuel said. “I’ll feel like I’ll have to get hits. The only way to get going is to get some at-bats in a row or something like that. I figured I might try the lineup out for a day or two in a row. We’ll see if we can get something.”

Phillies invade SEPTA

Prior to Wednesday’s game, SEPTA hosted a Phillies Express train to promote public transportation to the stadium and help celebrate Opening Night at Citizens Bank Park.

Starting at 4:30 p.m., fans were greeted by the Phillie Phanatic at Walnut-Locust Station and showered with rally towels and other giveaways. A few lucky fans got to ride the Phillies Express, a specially-decorated train, to AT&T Station with the Phanatic.

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