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Phillies’ Ryan Howard to Begin Rehab Assignment Tonight

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) -- Last night, the Philadelphia Phillies welcomed Chase Utley back into their lineup for the first time this season and more help is on the way for the struggling club. First baseman Ryan Howard is set to begin his rehab assignment tonight.

Howard will play for Single-A Lakewood tonight and will start out as a DH. The hope is that Howard will be ready to return to the team after the All-Star break in mid-July.

The 32-year-old baseman has yet to play all season as he's recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon. He suffered the injury while making the final out of the Phillies loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2011 NLDS.

"Hitting-wise I don't feel any difference," Howard said. "It's one of those things I don't even think about. I'm able to get up on the ball of my foot on my swing, on my follow through. Swing-wise, I don't feel any difference. So to me, that's a non-factor."

Howard is the best power hitter on the Phillies, so his return will certainly be welcomed. Despite a top-10 offense, the Phillies still find themselves in last place in the NL East. In 2011, Howard batted .253 with 33 home runs and 116 runs batted.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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