A more fitting image will come Friday night, as the Phils activated Howard and will have their cleanup hitter back in the lineup for the first time this season when they open a three-game set at home against the rival Braves.
Though Howard was originally expected to play back-to-back games in the field Thursday and Friday for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, that plan changed after Thursday's game.
"If we feel comfortable with how he felt coming out of [Thursday's rehab] game -- and so far we do -- then it's likely he'll begin playing in Philadelphia [on Friday]," general manager Ruben Amaro said.
Howard also seemed pretty confident after going 2-for-3 with an RBI and not experiencing any setbacks in the field during the seventh game of his rehab assignment. Overall, he hit .500 (10-for-20) with a homer and 10 RBIs in seven combined contests with Lehigh Valley and Class A Lakewood.
"Excited to be back in Philly tomorrow," the slugger tweeted late Thursday night.
The Phillies could have given Howard an extra week by waiting until after the All-Star break to plug him back into the lineup, but the break will serve as some extra rest for Howard after this weekend's three-game set.
Howard's return couldn't come soon enough for the Phillies, who currently sit in last place in the National League East, 10 games under .500 at 37-47 and 13 games back of the division-leading Nationals entering play Friday. Philadelphia has dropped seven of its past eight games.
As for the Braves, manager Fredi Gonzales expects his club to approach the rival Phils the same way regardless of what's going on in the home clubhouse Friday night.
"The Phillies are still the Phillies," Gonzalez said. "I don't care if they're 2-110. You go into that ballpark and they sell out, and it's a great atmosphere. They've still got, for me, the World [Series] and division champions [crowns]."
Braves: Hudson looking to rebound
Braves ace Tim Hudson will take the hill Friday coming off one of his worst performances of the season, as he looks to end his first-half on a high note.
Hudson was tagged for six runs (five earned) off eight hits over six innings in a loss to the Nationals on Sunday. The poor outing dropped Hudson's record to 6-4 and raised his ERA from 3.58 to 3.87.
"Just not very good stuff, from a location standpoint or a pitch standpoint," Hudson said after the loss. "It's one of those things where I made some pitches when I had some quicker innings to keep my pitch count down. But they got some pitches to hit, and they took advantage of it."
Phillies: Kendrick hopes to snap out of funk
Kyle Kendrick will counter Hudson in the series opener, as the Phils right-hander looks for his first victory since June 1.
In his latest outing, Kendrick was tagged for five runs in the first inning on his way to a loss against the Pirates. Though Kendrick settled down and allowed just two hits over the next six scoreless innings, he was still saddled with his eighth loss of the season.
Kendrick is 0-4 with a 7.67 ERA in his past five starts. For the season, he's 2-8 with a 5.35 mark in 17 appearances (12 starts).
To make room for Howard on the 25-man roster, the Phillies optioned infielder Hector Luna to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Luna, 32, appeared in 26 games and hit .246 with two home runs and 10 RBIs.
Philadelphia took two of three from May 1-3 in the first meeting between the clubs this season.
Jimmy Rollins is batting .188 (12-for-64) in his career against Hudson.
Martin Prado is 7-for-12 with a homer in his career against Kendrick.