Ryan Howard will see Phillies doctors Friday morning as a mere formality. The Phillies decided Thursday night their slugging first baseman was ready for a return to the majors less than nine months removed from Achilles surgery and after only seven minor-league games.
Finally, Charlie Manuel will have his full lineup.
There are, of course, changes. A reporter noted Manuel would usually not have to worry about where Carlos Ruiz hits in the full unit. The manager laughed.
"Those are good wrinkles," Manuel said. "I don't have any trouble with those wrinkles."
So what will Manuel's lineup resemble in Game 85? Here's a best guess:
1. Jimmy Rollins 6
2. Juan Pierre 7
3. Chase Utley 4
4. Ryan Howard 3
5. Carlos Ruiz 2
6. Hunter Pence 9
7. Shane Victorino 8
8. Placido Polanco 5
Atlanta is throwing three righthanders this weekend. But once the Phillies face a lefty, it's reasonable to assume Polanco or Victorino slides to the No. 2 spot with John Mayberry Jr. playing left field and batting eighth.
Hector Luna appears to be the most logical player to demoted make room for Howard. Luna has started six games and batted 40 times since June 1 with a .189 average. He has an option remaining, so he need not clear waivers to rejoin triple-A Lehigh Valley.
The Phillies could also send out Jason Pridie, who bats lefthanded. He, too, has an option remaining.
What is the lineup you would use with Howard in the mix?
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