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.

Yankees sign Brad Miller to minor league contract

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The Yankees announced on Monday that the club signed infielder Brad Miller to a minor league contract.

Miller, 29, was designated for assignment by the Indians last week. He wasn’t happy about that decision, saying, “Obviously, [the Indians] don’t want the best guys up here.”

Miller hit .250/.325/.417 with a homer and four RBI in 40 plate appearances with the Indians. The Indians have one of the worst offenses in the league and Miller was one of only a handful of players even hitting at a passable level, which did make his DFA all the more surprising.

The Yankees, decimated by injuries, need depth and Miller will provide that at the very least.