CINCINNATI - Ryan Howard walked with less of a limp yesterday at Great American Ball Park. Consider that progress.
"I'm feeling better," he said. "It feels looser."
Howard suffered a left leg sprain in Wednesday's loss to Washington. He did not play Thursday against the Nationals, but manager Charlie Manuel said the first baseman was available to pinch-hit last night against the Cincinnati Reds. There is a chance Howard could return to the starting lineup tonight.
"Hopefully," Howard said. "That's the goal. The next thing is to see how I run and take ground balls."
Howard, who took batting and fielding practice, has proven he doesn't need to be 100 percent to hit here. Last May, he spent a night in the hospital because of food poisoning. The next day he hit a pinch-hit, game-tying home run in the eighth inning and a game-winning homer in the 12th inning of a 2-1 victory.
"If we get in a spot and he feels he can get down to first base, I wouldn't be afraid to use him," Manuel said.
http://www.philly.com/inquirer/sports/2 ... rning.html
EDIT: Just speculation on my part, but I should mention that the Phillies are facing left-hander Eric Milton on Saturday. He's as useless as the come and Howard is 3/6 with 1 HR against him lifetime, but he's still a lefty which might give the Phillies a reason to give him another day off.