Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 7/6/12

The time for excuses is coming to a close. Chase Utley came off of the DL last week, and today, the Phillies have activated first baseman Ryan Howard.

Howard torn his Achilles tendon last October in game five of the NLDS against the Cardinals, and played six rehab games, tallying eight hits, two doubles, one homer, three walks, and three strikeouts. 

The Phillies could definitely use the boost that Howard has the potential to give them at first base. Ty Wigginton has been serving as the first baseman for most of the season, and his .722 OPS with just nine homers has not been very helpful to the team. Wigginton can now return to a bench/supersub type of role, spelling Howard at first base and Placido Polanco, who is looking every bit of his 36 years of age, at third base.

For the Phillies, this is crunch time. In two or three weeks, if the team is still struggling and at the bottom of the NL East even with their two injured stars back in the lineup, they should seriously look at starting to sell at the trade deadline. The team needs to play at a .679 clip over their final 78 games to reach 90 wins. With the way they've played over the first half of the season, that doesn't seem very plausible.

It's do or die time in Philadelphia right now.

Photo courtesy of Daylife.com

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