"If everything goes well, we'll get him into some Minor League games, which would be the logical next step," Reds manager Bryan Price said on Wednesday morning. "Then it will be a game-by-game evaluation on how he's doing. He's certainly going to need at least a handful of at-bats to kind of assess where he is, get his timing back somewhat, and then we'll evaluate and see where he is."
Price expected that Phillips would likely play for Triple-A Louisville on Friday. He could also see game action with Class A Dayton, since both affiliates will be playing at home.
Phillips has been pain-free swinging the bat and taking ground balls, but the question remains about how many at-bats he might need before he would be able to rejoin the Reds.
"Repetition is good, and we'd also like to have him back," Price said. "So it's trying to find a way to marry those two things where we can get him enough playing time. We can't put him through an entire Spring Training, but at least a few games."
Phillips was expected to be out of action for six weeks after his operation to repair the injury he sustained on July 9 while trying to make a diving catch in the field. Price speculated that he could have his National League Gold Glove Award-winning second baseman back during the upcoming trip, or shortly after the team opens a homestand next Thursday.
"I don't want to say he's rushed his rehab," Price said. "But he's done everything he can to get back into this place where he can actually be considered to go out for a rehab assignment and rejoin our club sooner than expected."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.