NEW YORK -- If Chase Utley is back in the Phillies' lineup next week, those who know him best will be impressed, but not surprised.
Sources said Friday that Utley, who had surgery July 1 to repair a torn tendon in his right thumb, is ahead of schedule and could rejoin the team as early as Tuesday against the San Francisco Giants at Citizens Bank Park. CBSSports.com first reported Utley told teammates he hoped to rejoin the team Tuesday.
Asked Friday night if Utley could play in a rehab game Saturday with Class A Clearwater, Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said, "It depends how he feels."
Another source said Utley could play Saturday.
Utley tore the ligament in his right thumb June 28 in Cincinnati. He had surgery three days later, and the Phillies estimated it would take him eight weeks to recover, which would have put him back in the lineup around Sept. 1.
But Utley has been a quick healer in the past. He had hip surgery following the 2008 World Series. The Phillies estimated a four-to-six-month recovery period, which meant he might not have been back until late May 2009. Utley was playing in Spring Training games in March and was in the '09 Opening Day lineup.
But how much time will Utley need to get ready? When he missed a month with a broken right hand in 2007, he went 1-for-10 in just three rehab games before rejoining the Phillies. He hit .321 with seven doubles, two triples, five home runs, 21 RBIs and a .916 OPS in 32 games to finish the season.
Clearwater plays at home at Bright House Field on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. If Utley needs just three games again, he could play with the Threshers and return to Philadelphia on Tuesday for a big series against the Giants.
Ruiz scratched with sore right quad
NEW YORK -- Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz walked with a limp Friday afternoon at Citi Field.
Yes, another injury.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel scratched Ruiz from the lineup because of a sore right quadriceps. Brian Schneider took his place. Manuel and Ruiz said they do not think it is serious, and Ruiz said he could play Saturday against the New York Mets.
"It's fine," Ruiz said. "Just one day."
Ruiz said he felt some tightness in his leg Thursday, when he hit a game-winning two-run double in the ninth inning for a 10-9 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Ruiz has 11 game-winning RBIs in the seventh inning or later in his career, five of which have come this season. Only San Francisco's Andres Torres (six) and Washington's Ryan Zimmerman (six) have more this year.
Ruiz and Manuel could not say exactly when he suffered the injury -- could it have happened during the postgame celebration? -- although Manuel said it happened "probably while he was catching or during the game or something. I just gave him a blow today. He's a little tight. ... He said he woke up and said he was sore there."
Howard hopeful for Tuesday return
NEW YORK -- Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, who is on the disabled list with a sprained left ankle, is eligible to be activated Tuesday against the San Francisco Giants at Citizens Bank Park.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel indicated that is unlikely, but Howard remained optimistic.
Howard said he will try to run and cut Saturday. He took batting practice before Friday's 1-0 loss against the New York Mets at Citi Field and said he felt fine. He also fielded ground balls.
Howard said he has not heard if he will leave anytime soon for a rehab assignment. He said he expects there to be some discomfort in his ankle when he rejoins the team, but he said it should be manageable.
Gload nursing strained right groin
NEW YORK -- Ross Gload said Friday his strained right groin felt about the same as it felt Thursday.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel indicated Gload, who injured his groin Wednesday, would be unavailable to pinch-hit, although he did not want to tip his hand to the Mets. Gload said he could pinch-hit if needed, but it sounded like only in an emergency situation.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.