Ryan Howard, Chase Utley take live batting practice

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Ryan Howard and Chase Utley continue to inch their way back to playing shape. Yesterday Utley took batting practice and then some grounders.  According to the report by Bob Brookover, however, the infield practice was limited and, given that playing second is what gives his knee the most trouble, there’s a lot of reason for tempering optimism.

Howard, however, played in what the Phillies call a simulated game on Wednesday and, between that and the other workouts he’s been doing, seems like he’s poised for a rehab assignment soon.

Mets release Jenrry Mejia

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The New York Mets have released relief pitcher Jenrry Mejia.

Mejia, you will recall, received a lifetime ban from baseball back in February 2016, following his third failed drug test. Last July Rob Manfred granted his application for reinstatement, effective at the beginning of the 2019 season. By way of rehab, Mejia pitched in five games in the minors late in the season. The Mets, obviously, did not want any part of him going forward, especially considering he’s arbitration eligible. To keep him, they’d have had to add him to their 40-man roster today.

Mejia is 9-14 with a 3.68 ERA in 18 starts and 95 relief appearances, all for the Mets.