Ryan Howard expected to return from disabled list Friday

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UPDATE: Ryan Howard confirmed on his Twitter account that he will rejoin the Phillies on Friday.

Read more details regarding Howard’s return on CSNPhilly.com.

10:30 PM: According to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, Howard is now “likely” to be activated from the disabled list tomorrow to play against the Braves.

5:32 PM: Ruben Amaro and Charlie Manuel spoke to the Philly media today, and the news nugget of note is that tonight might be Ryan Howard’s last rehab game. Or tomorrow night. Point is, Howard’s time in the minors is almost over and he could be in Philly as soon as this weekend. Here’s Ryan Lawrence from the DelCo Times:

Ryan Howard is scheduled to play nine innings at first base at Triple-A Lehigh Valley tonight. There’s a possibility his next game will be in Philadelphia.

Prior to the Phillies game in New York Thursday, manager Charlie Manuel said Howard will be re-evalauted following tonight’s game with the IronPigs. He didn’t rule out a return this weekend for the former MVP.

Amaro added that he thinks Howard is ready, but that they have to see how he does tonight.

It’s worth noting that Howard hasn’t played back-to-back games in the field since beginning his rehab assignment. He will tonight and tomorrow, however.

Offensively speaking, Howard has been fantastic, going 8 for 17 with a homer, two doubles and nine driven in.

Report: Welington Castillo to be suspended 80 games for violating Joint Drug Agreement

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic confirms a report from journalist Américo Celado that White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will be suspended 80 games for violating baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement. Castillo was believed to have used a steroid, but according to Rosenthal, the substance was not a steroid. More details should come on Thursday.

Castillo, 31, entered Wednesday’s action batting .270/.314/.477 with six home runs and 15 RBI in 118 plate appearances. He has gotten the bulk of the work behind the plate, backed up by Omar Narváez.

Castillo’s absence will likely prompt the White Sox to call up Kevan Smith from Triple-A Charlotte. Smith battled an ankle injury in March and April, so he got a late start to the season. In 102 PA at Triple-A, he has hit .283/.343/.457.