Amaro must have gotten the message somehow, because shortly after the Phillies lost to the Mets in New York, 5-4, he announced that Howard would rejoin the Phillies and be in the lineup when they open a series against the Atlanta Braves Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.
"Excited to be back in Philly tomorrow," Howard tweeted late Thursday night after getting the news.
For Lehigh, Howard rapped a pair of singles — one a bloop to left in the opening inning that plated a run in the first inning — and he also drew a pair of walks. His 2-for-3 evening gave him 10 hits in 20 at-bats, with one homer and 10 RBI during his rehab stints at both Lakewood and Lehigh Valley. .
As well as having a solid night at the plate, Howard fielded a ball in the hole between first and second in the first and didn't appear to be suffering from any lingering effects from his Achilles' tendon injury. It also marked the first stretch in his rehab of consecutive nine-inning games at first base. Howard had also seen time as a designated hitter at both minor league stops and had been removed after seven innings of previous games.
"It is pretty important," Howard said about playing the entire game. "I had to see how the body reacted and see how the ankle felt. So far, I haven't had any lingering effects from my ankle. I just have to be patient right now and take it day-by-day."
Howard wasn't trying to force his return toW the Phillies, knowing that his recovery from the Achilles' injury he initially suffered during last October's playoffs, would be a process.
"It [ankle] hasn't been very sore and I'm just trying to stay ahead of everything," Howard said.
"I don't feel like I have to get over any hurdles, but I just have to be able to mWanage the soreness and stuff. It has been good so far."
Howard said he was pleased with his adjusting to playing baseball again.
"I feel like I'm getting back into the swing of things in the overall game," he said. "If anything, I feel like baserunning will take some time, but I'm not trying to steal bases. I may not have the fastest starts out of the [batter's] box, but I will work on it.
“I'll keep working, but I feel like I'm taking major steps in the right direction."