Phillies getting reinforcements back, is it too late?
The rhetoric coming out of Philadelphia during spring training was that this Phillies team needed to tread water until they got their heavy hitters back. Chase Utley has been out all year with degenerating knees. Ryan Howard tore his Achilles tendon while making the final out of the NLDS (double scoop of shame) to the St. Louis Cardinals last year and has already experienced a setback or two.
Well, the treading water stuff hasn’t been going so well. The Phils have been in the basement of the NL East for much of the year and are only in fourth right now by a one hundredth of a percentage point. They are eight games back and the division is tight. That’s not the same as being eight games back and in sole place of second.
Tonight, Chase Utley (wearing No. 21 because the Iron Pigs mascot wears No. 26…like anyone cares) is in the lineup for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (AAA) getting his supposed final rehab start. If all goes well, he’s expected to be in the starting lineup for the Phillies tomorrow night. I think people are making a bit too big of a deal out of this, but they are down to a platoon of Mike Fontenot and Michael Martinez, so we’ll see. I look at Utley’s .259 batting average last year and sudden dearth of power and don’t see a guy who is ready to step in and carry the team. Is he better than what they have? Oh god yes. But, mitigate your enthusiasm.
Now, according to Matt Gelb on Twitter, Howard could begin a rehab assignment on Thursday.
“Ryan Howard may begin a rehab assignment June 28, Ruben Amaro Jr. says,” Gelb tweets.
The rehab assignment could last some three weeks, so he’s hardly a few days from returning. The 32-year old would likely be back after the All-Star break is all goes well.
It would certainly be good news for the Phillies, but is it too little too late? Can Chase Utley and Ryan Howard really help resurrect the Phils from the depths of the NL East? How much power will Howard have as he recovers from the Achilles?