Howard could return Monday

Ryan Howard tests his ankle before last nights game. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

Ryan Howard still doesn't know exactly what the Phillies' plan is for him. But he said this evening that he thinks Monday is a realistic date for his return to the line-up. Howard has been sidelined since Aug. 1 with a sprained ankle. He is walking better, and today did some agility drills in addition to work in the field. But the Phillies want to be cautious with him.

Manager Charlie Manuel said today that he would like Howard to get some at-bats in a minor league setting before he is activated. Howard said before batting practice that he was not aware of any definite plans yet.

Short stop Jimmy Rollins missed three weeks with a sprained ankle in 2008. A Monday return would put Howard at a full three-week recovery.

"I'd rather be safe than sorry," Howard said. "The competitor in me wants to be out there. But at the same time you don't want to rush it back, because then it's all for not. Come back too soon and go right back down and the next thing you know I'm done for the rest of September."

Ross Gload is in the starting line-up at first base tonight, his first start since straining his groin last week.