If the Phillies continue their recent upward swing up the standings in the next month and play themselves into contention, they just might get a big bat back in the middle of their lineup for the home stretch.
If they revert to playing as they have for most of the 2013 season, and slowly move in the other direction south of the .500 mark, they can rest up their injured slugger.
Either way, they have options, and Ruben Amaro Jr. was encouraged several hours after Ryan Howard had surgery on his left knee on Wednesday.
"There’s a reasonable chance we’ll have him back at some point," Amaro said of Howard, who is expected to be out 6-to-8 weeks. "We’ll see. We still have a lot of question marks about where we’re going to go in the next couple of weeks. Right now, the team is making decisions a little harder on me which is fine."
The trade deadline is exactly three weeks away. Amaro might have to answer whether he's a buyer or seller right up until July 31.
The Phillies play on the field will likely dictate which direction he goes. It could also dictate when Ryan Howard returns to the lineup.
Phils team physician Michael Ciccotti performed the surgery on Howard's left knee on Wednesday, a procedure that involved a debridement of the left medial meniscus. Amaro was encouraged with the results.
"It went very well," Amaro said. "He debrided it, it was not a repair, he debrided his menial meniscus and it went really well. The arthritic things that we had seen in the MRI were even better when they looked in the scope, so that’s a good sign.
"When you do the MRIs, you don’t really know what’s going on. They can only give you so much of a picture. But after Ciccotti went in there and went in with the scope, it was a little better picture then we thought. I think the player is feeling better about it, we’re feeling better about it. As news goes, this is as good as we can get."