Ryan Howard patrolled first base during batting practice Saturday, scooping up a handful of ground balls and stabbing a sharp line drive.

He is heavier, and the limp is still noticeable, but the image of the Phillies' cleanup hitter back in his usual home is finally coming into focus.

Howard will head to Florida today to begin ramping up his rehab from a ruptured Achilles and an infected wound, and while it will be a few more days before he starts hitting, and a timetable for his return remains unspecified, the Phillies are finally seeing some serious progress.

"He wants to get his legs under him," GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said, "but once he starts hitting, he'll be able to hit, and we can be aggressive."