Ryan Howard is “very optimistic” he’ll begin rehab assignment in the next week

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Chase Utley may soon have some familiar company in the minors.

According to Jake Kaplan of MLB.com, Ryan Howard said in a podcast on his website that he is “very optimistic” he’ll begin a minor league rehab assignment “in the next week or so.” I may have buried the lede here, as the bigger news might be that Ryan Howard has a podcast.

Anyway, Howard has been rehabbing his surgically-repaired left Achilles tendon in simulated games in Clearwater. He recently began running the bases and playing the field. He’ll need to feel comfortable with both before being cleared for competitive game situations.

Position players are given a 20-day rehab window in the minors and Howard figures to need most or all of it. Assuming he can get into a game by next weekend, that would put him on track to rejoin the Phillies shortly after the All-Star break.

Howard, who is in the first year of a five-year, $125 million contract extension, batted .253/.346/.488 with 33 home runs, 116 RBI and an .835 OPS last season. The Phillies have combined to bat .265/.325/.425 with 10 homers and a .751 OPS from the first base position this year.

Sean Manaea has a no-hitter through eight innings

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UPDATE (11:06 PM ET): Manaea is through eight innings of his no-hitter. He caught Rafael Devers looking, then induced a pop-up to retire Sandy Leon and whiffed Jackie Bradley Jr. to end the inning. He’s at 95 pitches and a career-high 10 strikeouts entering the ninth.

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Athletics southpaw Sean Manaea has no-hit the Red Sox through seven innings of Saturday’s game. Any thought of a perfect game was banished in the first at-bat, when Mookie Betts drew a leadoff six-pitch walk to open the first inning. From there, Manaea held the Sox to just three total baserunners through the first seven innings.

Andrew Benintendi tried to break up the no-no in the sixth inning, collecting an infield hit for what appeared to be the Red Sox’ first hit of the evening. Upon further review, however, the hit was reversed after Benintendi incurred a batter interference call for running outside the baseline.

Manaea is currently working with a three-run lead thanks to RBI doubles from Jed Lowrie and Stephen Piscotty and Marcus Semien‘s solo shot off of Chris Sale in the fifth. He’s racked up eight strikeouts against 23 batters so far.

If Manaea sees the no-hitter through to completion — as seems entirely possible, given that his pitch count is resting at 84 entering the eighth — he’ll be the first A’s pitcher to toss a no-no since Dallas Braden’s perfect game against the Rays eight years ago. The last time the Red Sox were on the losing end of a no-hitter, meanwhile, was back in 1993 against the Mariners’ Chris Bosio.