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7/29/2013 9:55 P.M. ET

Howard steps up for literacy, says return unknown

PHILADELPHIA -- Many of Ryan Howard's teammates showed up for his charity event, "Stand Up for Literacy," at the Franklin Institute on Monday, including Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins.

Howard hosted the event with his wife, Krystle, a former second-grade teacher, and the goal was to engage more young students in literacy.

"If kids can't read by the third grade, they're more likely to fail, not graduate high school and kind of suffer through life," Howard said. "This was a very important component for us that we felt needed to be addressed."

Howard has not been able to join his teammates on the field lately, but he has had to watch the Phillies lose eight in a row, and fall to seven games below the .500 mark.

Howard was placed on the disabled list with a torn meniscus in his left knee on July 6, and the slugger had a successful operation performed four days later. The knee was bothering the 33-year-old first baseman for a while before the surgery, and while Howard wants to help end the Phillies' struggles, he also wants to be 100 percent.

"That's first and foremost for me right now, to get healthy," Howard said Monday.

"I've been playing hurt for like the last year and a half, so that's the key. My heart goes out for the guys, I know they're going out there and trying. It hasn't been pretty."

The original timetable for Howard's return was six to eight weeks, which would have had him back on the field by the end of August. He said the knee is getting better "slowly but surely," and he is rehabbing, but Howard does not know when he will rejoin the Phillies.

"I don't have a timetable for it," Howard said. "I'm just going to wait until I don't feel any more pain."

Howard was hitting .266 with 11 homers, 43 RBIs and a .784 OPS in 80 games before being sidelined.

Utley: No discussions with Phils about future

PHILADELPHIA -- Chase Utley's future with the Phillies is on the minds of many fans, but it was not something the second baseman wanted to discuss Monday.

When asked if he recently had any discussions with the team about what was next for him, the five-time All-Star simply said "no."

The Phillies have fallen to 49-56, and Utley is in the final season of a seven-year contract. With the non-waiver Trade Deadline set for 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Utley's name has been thrown around as someone who could potentially be on the move. However, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has previously stated he thinks Utley could be a "Phillie for life."

While people speculate what could happen to Utley, he kept his comments brief at Ryan Howard's charity event, "Stand Up for Literacy."

"I've enjoyed my off-day, I'm here to support Ryan," said Utley, who is hitting .274 this season. "Obviously, we've had a rough week and a half."

Rollins: 'Nothing wrong' with Pap voicing opinion

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies had a frustrating road trip.

It ended with an eight-game losing streak, and a terrible weekend in Detroit. After Sunday's 12-4 loss, closer Jonathon Papelbon voiced his disappointments by saying he "didn't come here for this," and that the organization needs changes "from top to bottom."

Monday, some of Papelbon's teammates got a chance to react to his comments.

"The man has an opinion, there's nothing wrong with that," Jimmy Rollins said Monday. "No one wants to go out there and lose, and I think what happened out there in Detroit, it wasn't good. It was embarrassing. So, if that's how he feels, you can't knock him for that."

The Phillies entered Monday 11 games back of division-leading Atlanta.

"I think that everyone is not happy with how things have gone, especially the last week or so," outfielder John Mayberry Jr. said.

Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.