The Philadelphia Phillies have activated first baseman Ryan Howard on Friday in advance of the opening game of their weekend series with the Atlanta Braves. Howard has been on the shelf since the end of last season, tearing his achilles in the final out of Philadelphia's Game 5 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS. He returns much earlier than expected, joining the club in the final series before the All-Star Break. Hector Luna was optioned to make room on the roster for the 2006 NL MVP. The Phils announced the move on their Twitter account:
1B Ryan Howard has been activated from the 15-day DL. Inf Hector Luna was optioned to @IronPigs— Phillies (@Phillies) July 6, 2012
The Phillies are scuffling, ten games under .500 and in last place in the NL East. Howard has a little over two weeks to perhaps provide a spark, or else the Ruben Amaro may start selling off assets at the trade deadline. The Nationals continue to set the pace in the division with the Mets and Braves above .500 and in pursuit.