Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said before Friday's game he will take precautions during Ryan Howard's ballyhooed early return from a rehab assignment.

Howard will likely have off Saturday and play Sunday before the Phillies hit the All-Star break. The last time Phillies fans saw "Big Piece" in action he was in a crumpled heap halfway down the first-base line in the deciding game of the 2011 NLDS in October 2011. Howard had surgery on his Achilles shortly thereafter.

"It feels good. I'm ready to go and get back in the swing of things," Howard said.

"He'll probably play two of the three, kind of work him in," Manuel said. "He hadn't been playing a lot either kind of like Utley. I have to talk to him every day and see what he's doing and see where he's at and things like that. Plus, we'll get to see him in the game and see how good he can move and what's going on."

The biggest question regarding Howard's health, according to Manuel, is his running ability. Howard even said the day before he began his rehab assignment that his swing was normal. Getting his legs under him was the biggest obstacle.

"I'd say just moving around, running, being able to shift his legs at first base," Manuel said. "Defensive stuff."