Ryan Howard homers in rehab game, nears Phillies return

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It’s unclear if Ryan Howard’s surgically repaired Achilles’ tendon is ready to handle playing in the majors again, but his bat sure looks fine.

Howard went 2-for-3 with a homer and four RBIs in a minor-league rehab game yesterday at Triple-A and is now 8-for-17 (.471) with a homer, two doubles, and nine RBIs in six rehab games overall.

His homer yesterday came off former big leaguer John Maine, who’s now pitching at Triple-A for the Yankees, and John Finger of CSNPhilly.com reports that Howard also played seven innings defensively at first base without any issues.

For now he’s scheduled to play Triple-A games Thursday and Friday, at which point Howard could be cleared to come off the disabled list and rejoin the Phillies for the first time since tearing his Achilles’ tendon making the final out of last year’s NLDS.

Yankees activate Gary Sanchez

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The Yankees have activated catcher Gary Sanchez from the 10-day disabled list. To clear a roster spot for him, the Yankees optioned Kyle Higashioka to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Sanchez missed close to a month with a strained groin. His return is more than just a comeback from an injury, however. It’s a chance to start the season over in a sense, with the hopes of putting his dreadful first half behind him. The Yankees catcher hit a horrible .190/.291/.433 with 14 home runs, 41 RBI, and 36 runs scored in 265 plate appearances before going down. He’ll look to get back on track against the Mets tonight.