Howard and Utley will be back sometime this week.
It's probably a bit of a reach, but it's possible the Phillies are able to add Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to the lineup as early as Tuesday's game against the San Francisco Giants.
Utley, who had thumb surgery back on July 1st, has a better shot of returning when the Phillies start their series against the Giants than Howard. The All-Star second baseman has reported no soreness in his thumb after making rehab starts in the minors and is closing in on the estimated time of his arrival.
Howard, on the other hand, did report some soreness in his ankle after going through some workouts a couple days ago. He's going to be evaluated by the Phillies' team doctors Tuesday, but it's likely they'll decide to keep him benched for at least a few more days.
The Giants will probably get lucky and miss the return of both players. With a serious playoff push already under way, Charlie Manuel and the rest of the Phillies organization is going to want to make sure that their star players are 100 percent before throwing them back on the field.
If they rush them back, they could both wind up hitting the DL again, as was the case with Jimmy Rollins a couple months back.
Once both guys are activated, it's going to be interesting to see what the team decides to do in order to make room for them. The bullpen is about as thin as it can get, so the two guys sent down will likely have to be from the field.
Greg Dobbs could find himself back in the minors, and it could also mean the end of Domonic Brown's major league stint.
Brown has played well, but keeping him on the bench might not be worth it with a lefty in Gload already on the bench. However, if Gload winds up on the DL, Brown could stay as the lefty off the bench and fill in for Raul Ibanez when he needs it.
Ben Francisco is playing well, so he'd likely be the guy if Manuel felt the need to give Jayson Werth the day off.
Dobbs, on the other hand, doesn't seem to have a place. Wilson Valdez can play second or third and the team has two other options for a left-handed bench bat. Manuel and Ruben Amaro Jr. have shown before they're comfortable putting Dobbs through waivers, so it's likely that's the route they'll go once again.
Either way, having Howard and Utley back this week is going to be a huge boost to a Phillies team already on a hot-streak, and could make them the favorites in the NL East or, at the very least, to earn a wild card spot.