LAKEWOOD, N.J. — 1B Ryan Howard grounded out to second base in the first at-bat of his rehab stint, just like he did in his last plate appearance of 2011 for the Phillies.
But unlike last year, when he crumpled to the ground with a ruptured Achilles tendon, Thursday's groundout was full of promise.
The 32-year-old former NL MVP began a rehab assignment with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws, where he played in 2002, and went 2-for-4 with three RBIs.
He grounded out deep to second in his first at-bat and hustled down the line with no apparent difficulty. In the fourth, he drove in two with a single up the middle. He followed with another single to nearly the same spot in the fifth.
"It felt good," he said. "The running part was the biggest thing. … I didn't really think about it. Adrenaline kicked in. I'm not worried about my Achilles at all."
If Howard's rehab goes the full 20 days, he could rejoin the Phillies on July 18.
More Phillies: RHP Chad Qualls, 33, asked to be traded after the team informed the reliever he was being designated for assignment. Qualls, 1-1 with a 4.60 ERA in 35 games, began the season with six straight scoreless appearances but posted a 5.68 ERA in his last 29 games The former Ray was replaced on the roster by LHP Jeremy Horst. "The bullpen is an area we have to address," GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said.
Diamondbacks: RHP Daniel Hudson believes he has a full tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, but he won't declare his season is over until he gets a second opinion today. "Probably the worst news you can get," he said.
Orioles: DH Nick Johnson went on the 15-day DL with a sprained right wrist. He missed time last year with an inflamed tendon in the wrist but said this is unrelated.
Red Sox: OF Jacoby Ellsbury (right shoulder) and OF Scott Podsednik (strained groin) will begin rehab assignments today as designated hitters. Ellsbury will join OF Carl Crawford (left wrist surgery) in the rookie league in Florida. Podsednik will be with Triple-A Pawtucket.
Tigers: A followup MRI exam revealed that DH Victor Martinez's surgically repaired left knee has improved. His leg strength needs work, so the best-case scenario for Martinez to return this year is mid to late September.
White Sox: The team purchased the contract of LHP Leyson Septimo from Triple-A Charlotte and designated reliever Will Ohman for assignment.
Yankees: RHP Adam Warren, 24, will make his major-league debut today, taking the start for CC Sabathia (strained groin). "Anyone gets hurt you can't be too happy about it, but it's an opportunity for me," Warren said. "Try to make the most of it."
Dykstra case: Former Mets and Phillies OF Lenny Dykstra agreed to plead guilty to one count each of bankruptcy fraud, concealment of assets and money laundering in Los Angeles, federal prosecutors said. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison. It was not immediately known when his next court date will be. Dykstra, 49, filed for bankruptcy three years ago, claiming he owed more than $31 million and had only $50,000 in assets. Prosecutors said that after filing, Dykstra hid, sold or destroyed more than $400,000 worth of items without permission of a bankruptcy trustee.