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.

The Mets are strongarming Devin Mesoraco into retiring

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The Mets told catcher Devin Mesoraco on Saturday that he will not make the team, Mike Puma of the New York Post reported. Mesoraco, a major league veteran of eight seasons, said he won’t accept a reassignment to Triple-A. According to Matt Ehalt of Yahoo Sports, the Mets will place Mesoraco on the restricted list rather than release him. As a result, Mesoraco is expected to retire from baseball.

This is a bad look for the Mets. Most teams release the major league-caliber players they don’t plan to break camp with so they can pursue opportunities elsewhere. The Mets must really be hurting for catching depth.

Mesoraco, 30, was decent as the Mets’ back-up last season after coming over from the Reds in the Matt Harvey deal, batting .222/.306/.409 with 10 home runs and 30 RBI in 229 plate appearances. Mesoraco is a bit below-average defensively and spent much of the mid-2010’s on the disabled list dealing with hip and shoulder injuries.

On Monday afternoon, the Mets signed free agent catcher René Rivera, per SNY’s Andy Martino. Rivera was recently released by the Giants. He is less potent with the bat than Mesoraco, but a bit better defensively. Rivera will back up Wilson Ramos and Travis d'Arnaud will likely open the season on the injured list. Tomás Nido will be the third-string catcher behind Rivera.