Ryan Howard met with a wound specialist in Philadelphia on Monday, and while the team didn't exactly get the news they were hoping for, a return to action could be in sight for the rehabbing first baseman.

The specialist said the wound on Howard's ankle near the site of his October Achilles surgery has improved, but it's still not fully healed. Howard will back off workouts and be "immobilized" for the next week in hopes the reduced wear and tear will allow the wound to completely close, at which time his rehab could begin in earnest.

"Because the Achilles is healed, and all this time waiting for the wound to heal over -- the residual effect is that we're going to try to be aggressive with him when he can start baseball activities," GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said.