PHILADELPHIA - The Phillies should have their best lineup back soon.

Philadelphia first baseman Ryan Howard begins a rehabilitation assignment tonight at single-A Lakewood.

While Howard is in Lakewood, the BlueClaws will retire his No. 29 jersey. Howard, who spent the entire 2002 season there, became the first former Lakewood player to make it to the majors.

Howard has been on the disabled list since Aug. 2 with a sprained ankle, but he could return to the Phillies by the end of the weekend.

"I think it's definitely important for him to get at-bats and get some live pitching," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said before Thursday's 5-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants.

This is not the first time Howard has rehabbed in Lakewood. Three years ago, he spent two days there, and the team drew a combined 16,201 fans for the two games.

Contact Susan Lulgjuraj:

609-272-7187