Howard nears return to Phils lineup

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. says Ryan Howard has been making progress in his rehabilitation for an Achillies injury, and the first baseman could make his return to the major leagues this weekend.

”He’s getting close,” Amaro said Thursday before Philadelphia faced the New York Mets.

Howard has participated in six rehab games with Class A Lakewood and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He is scheduled to play back-to-back games in the field for the first time beginning Thursday night.

Sidelined since being injured making the final out of the Phillies’ season last year, Howard is hitting .471 (8 for 17) with two doubles, a homer and nine RBI in the minors.

Also, Amaro says Roy Halladay is going to have another bullpen sessions Saturday after throwing 56 pitches Tuesday.