Ryan Howard ditches protective boot, cleared for workouts

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Ryan Howard took a big step in his recovery from a torn Achilles’ tendon today, as doctors cleared him to stop wearing a protective boot and start working out.

Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Howard’s first post-boot workout involved fielding ground balls at first base while sitting on a stool, so he’s obviously still nowhere near being game ready at this point.

Howard’s timetable was pushed back because of an infection months after the surgery, leading to speculation that he’ll miss all of April and most of May at the very least. Jimmy Rollins even expressed some doubt about the slugging first baseman playing at all this season, but barring more setbacks June seems like a reasonable target date.

Reds sign outfielders Mason Williams and Rosell Herrera to minor league deals

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The Reds picked up outfielders Mason Williams and Rosell Herrera on minor league deals, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. Both Williams and Herrera will receive invites to spring training and could compete for backup outfield roles behind Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton and Scott Schebler.

Williams, 26, completed a three-year track with the Yankees in 2017. He has yet to see a full season of playing time, however, and went 4-for-17 with two stolen bases during a five-game span with the club in 2017. While not a power hitter, his speed and steady contact rate produced a .263/.309/.318 batting line over 437 plate appearances in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, including two home runs, three triples and 19 stolen bases.

Herrera, 25, has yet to make his big league debut. After seven years in the Rockies’ system, he finally reached Triple-A Albuquerque in 2017 and slashed .278/.351/.394 with three home runs and 20 stolen bases in 363 PA. He looks most comfortable in the left field corner, but has some experience at shortstop and third base and should give the Reds a nice utility option come spring.