This was the first time I had experienced such a long layoff away from the game of baseball. It was a real learning experience. I would not recommend it to anybody. I guess the best way to put it is that it is just one those things that you go through in life.

I felt during the time I was away due to the Achilles surgery that it was very, very important to try and keep a positive outlook. I did my best. There were times when it would have been easy to get down on myself and the situation and all, but I tried my best to spin it around.

I did a good job of listening to my body, and there were times when my body was saying that it wasn't ready yet. I knew my body would ultimately let me know. So, it was, I believe, critical that I stayed positive.

Now, it is nice to talk about baseball again and not about my health. Like I had told people before, the situation with my leg going forward is, "It is going to be what it is going to be." I just have to watch it, I just have to police it as best as I can.

It is great to be talking baseball, though -- that is for sure. It is nice to be going out there to do my best to contribute to wins. I recently hit my first home run of the season, and it was nice to make solid contact and to make something happen. But the important thing is that it came as part of a victory.

At the plate right now, I am about getting back into the flow. Confidence is always a big thing when you play at this level, and right now, for me, it is also about making adjustments. I feel good, but I am looking to slow myself down at times. Sometimes I have been a little quick at the plate, so it is about slowing down and making those adjustments.

Even though it doesn't show right now, I do feel good against lefties. I have faced a lot of guys since I have been back who throw hard from the left side, guys throwing 94 miles per hour or so. Those have been some uncomfortable at-bats before, but it has felt pretty good for me of late.

As a team, we need to keep doing what we have done the past few games. We have to forget about the first half of the year. Basically, the goal is to go out there and win each series.

We have a lot of hope still. You have to forget that first half -- it was what it was -- and we need to go out and win.

A big plus also for us right now is that we got back Roy Halladay. That brings a lot of excitement. We have a job to do. We need to go out there and help back up Roy.

Phillies slugger Ryan Howard made his 2012 debut on July 6. He had missed the entire season due to an Achilles injury he suffered during the final play of the Phillies' National League Divisional Series loss to the Cardinals last October.