April 14, 2012; Philadelphia, PA USA; Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard (6) watches from the dugout during the game against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park. The Mets defeated the Phillies, 5-0. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

Around The NL East: Howard, Utley Set To Begin Baseball Activities

Considering the Philadelphia Phillies entered the season as a widespread favorite to win the NL East, the start they’ve gotten off to seems somewhat disappointing. But remember, they’ve been missing a significant portion of their offense thanks to a mounting number of injuries (sound familiar?). There appears to be some good news, however, for the Phillies and their offense as both Ryan Howard and Chase Utley will resume baseball activities this week, according to Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Howard, as you may recall, tore his Achilles as Philadelphia’s season came to an end last October in the NLCS. It was widely expected at the time that he’d be out until sometime in June, assuming there are no setbacks in his rehabilitation. However, Howard suffered an infection in late February around the surgical wound, which has since limited him further. Having been with the team over the past few weeks, he is scheduled to arrive at the team’s Spring Training complex in Clearwater, FL on Monday at which point he’ll be limited to fielding drills. It appears he won’t begin taking batting practice for at least another week.

As for Utley, he doesn’t sound as though he’s as far along in his recovery as Howard, but he too should be arriving in Clearwater before the week ends. He’s been out since Spring Training as he attempts to strengthen his knees due to a chronic series of problems that have plagued his career. Much of his physical therapy to date has been in Arizona, rather than at the team’s facilities.

There remains no timetable for either player’s return to the Phillies lineup, though neither is expected until mid-June at the earliest at this point.

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