OK, here's the good news:

Ryan Howard is getting better. He can jump rope a bit and has been playing catch and fielding grounders. More importantly, the surgical wound where his Achilles was repaired and subsequently became infected, is improving as well.

"He's doing more than he was a week ago," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.

But Howard's wound is not yet 100 percent. Given that the wound is the key to determining when the Phillies' top slugger will return to the lineup, it can't get better fast enough for the Phillies.