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Ryan Howard Begins Rehab Assignment

Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard suffered an Achilles injury on the team’s final play of 2011, when they were eliminated in their NLDS with the Cardinals.

We’re now almost halfway through the 2012 season, and the Phillies inch closer to getting Howard back. Associated Press via SI.com:

The 32-year-old former NL MVP will begin a rehab assignment with the Class A Lakewood Blue Claws, where he played in 2002.

It’s his first game since rupturing an Achilles tendon after grounding to second for the final out of Game 5 of the National League Division Series.

The Phillies are six games under .500 and 9½ games out of first place, and their first basemen this season have hit .260/.319/.418, far below Howard’s usual level. If he can come back at anywhere near his previous form, the Phillies might still be able to make a run at the NL East title, or at least one of the two wild-card spots.

For more on the Phillies, please visit The Good Phight and SB Nation Philly.