Ryan Howard began his minor league rehab assignment last night


Ryan Howard kicked off his minor league rehab assignment last night with Class A Lakewood. He went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles, three RBI and a sacrifice fly while serving as the designated hitter.

Both hits were singles to the right of second base, the second of which he beat out for an infield hit. Howard’s baserunning appears to be a work in progress, but he had plenty of chances to test his surgically-repaired Achilles. He just missed a home run with his sacrifice fly in the ninth. All in all, a good day.

The assumption was that Howard would DH for a couple more games before playing the field, but he’s actually scheduled to play first base today. The 32-year-old slugger figures to need most of his 20-day rehab window to get into game-shape and get his timing down at the plate, but things are looking up for the Fightins.

CSNPhilly.com has video of Howard’s at-bats and some post-game comments:

Blue Jays name J.A. Happ their Opening Day starter

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The Toronto Blue Jays have named J.A. Happ their Opening Day starter. He’ll face off against Luis Severino and the New York Yankees on March 29 in Toronto.

Based on last season’s stats you’d assume Marcus Stroman would get the Opening Day assignment, but he has been slowed by a right shoulder inflammation this spring. He’ll get three extra days rest to start the season and start the finale of the four-game series against the Yankees. After Happ will come Aaron Sanchez and Marco Estrada. Jaime Garcia will be the fifth starter.

Happ, 35, is entering the final year of a three-year, $36 million deal.  He went 10-11 with a 3.53 ERA in 25 starts last season.