Ryan Howard cleared for baseball activities, heading to Phillies’ spring training complex

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Hey, it’s positive Ryan Howard health news!

According to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, the 32-year-old first baseman has been cleared for baseball activities and will report to the Phillies’ spring training complex in Clearwater, Florida on Monday morning to begin daily workouts.

He will begin by fielding ground balls and playing catch before progressing to hitting and base-running.

Howard underwent surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon in October, then had a follow-up procedure in February to clear out an infection that had formed around his surgical wound.

Salisbury calls June a “safe, albeit broad, outside estimate” for the slugger’s return to major league action.

Report: Mets sign Brad Brach to one-year, $850,000 contract

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The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Mets and free agent reliever Brad Brach have agreed on a one-year deal worth $850,000. The contract includes a player option for the 2021 season with a base salary of $1.25 million and additional performance incentives.

Brach, 33, signed as a free agent with the Cubs this past February. After posting an ugly 6.13 ERA over 39 2/3 innings, the Cubs released him in early August. The Mets picked him up shortly thereafter. Brach’s performance improved, limiting opposing hitters to six runs on 15 hits and three walks with 15 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings through the end of the season.

While Brach will add some much-needed depth to the Mets’ bullpen, his walk rate has been going in the wrong direction for the last three seasons. It went from eight percent in 2016 to 9.5, 9.7, and 12.8 percent from 2017-19. Needless to say the Mets are hoping that trend starts heading in the other direction next season.