By Spike Eskin

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – With runs not coming nearly as often as the Phillies would like so far this season, Ryan Howard would be a welcome addition to the lineup.  General manager Ruben Amaro thinks it still might be a while until that happens.

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“He’s doing all the exercises necessary [in Clearwater, Florida] to prepare himself for the season. He does need to gain strength in his calf, he’s got a way to go as far as that’s concerned,” Amaro said during the Phillies pre-game show on 1210 WPHT and 94WIP before Wendesday night’s win over the Nationals.

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Howard’s recovery from Achilles surgery was stunted by an infection he developed in the area of the procedure. “You know, biggest issue that we had with Ryan, and we didn’t know how severe it was, was the infection that he had,” Amaro said. “When he had that infection, that had to debride quite a bit of it out of that area. And when they did that, they had to take actual meat, and muscle out of that area, which obviously made this rehab much, much longer than it should be. Unfortunately we can’t control the fact that he did get an infection, but you know, it happened. It was a result of his body kind of rejecting the stitches out of his body. But these are things that happen, they are complications that happen, and unfortunately it’s hurting our club.”

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Amaro also gave updates on a couple of other injured players, most notably, Chase Utley. “As far as Chase is concerned, he continues to improve day by day, it’s been slow obviously, but any improvement is a plus for me. He’s going to be traveling with the team, not sure when and if he’s going to be going to Clearwater any time soon,” he said. He also said utility infielder Michael Martinez is “close.”