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.

Brewers sign Gio Gonzalez

Gio Gonzalez
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Ken Rosenthal reports that the Milwaukee Brewers have signed Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez will get a $2 million base salary with $2 million in potential performance bonuses.

Gonzalez was excellent for the Brewers down the stretch last season, posting a 2.13 ERA over his final five regular season starts. While it’s not likely he can replicate that, given how terrible Milwaukee’s rotation has been thus far — they have a 5.74 ERA as a group this season — he can’t hurt.

Not a bad landing pad for a guy who had to settle for a minor league deal with the Yankees before being released over the weekend.