Howard aiming for Monday

Ryan Howard tests his ankle while fielding ground balls before last night's game. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

Ryan Howard has a date in mind for his return: Monday's series opener against the Houston Astros.

"There's still a little bit of soreness," Howard said. "I actually felt good running today."

Howard has been testing his sprained left ankle at the plate and in the field. On Wednesday, he did some sharp cuts on the ankle and felt decent. He's also been dealing with the task of becoming used to his ankle heavily taped.

He will likely go on a rehab assignment this weeekend.

"I'd rather take a few extra days to be safe," Howard said.

When Howard returns, Domonic Brown will likely go back to the minors. Brown has two at-bats in the Phillies' last five games. If Brown goes to triple-A Lehigh Valley on Monday, he could receive regular at-bats in the IronPigs' 15 remaining games before returning to the Phillies as a bench player in September.