NEW YORK -- The Big Piece is back.
Can he help save the Phillies' season?
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. announced after Thursday's 6-5 walk-off loss to the Mets at Citi Field that Ryan Howard, who has been on the disabled list since the season started because of left Achilles surgery, was "likely" to start at first base Friday night against the Braves at Citizens Bank Park.
"Likely" has changed to "will start at first base and bat cleanup." The Phillies activated Howard from the disabled list on Friday afternoon, presumably after he was evaluated following a Minor League rehab game on Thursday.
Howard played nine innings at first base for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He went 2-for-3 with one RBI. In seven rehab games with Class A Lakewood and Lehigh Valley, he hit a combined .500 (10-for-20) with two doubles, one home run and 10 RBIs.
The Phillies needed Chase Utley to play back-to-back games at second base before they considered activating him from the disabled list, but they did not need that from Howard.
"He's been progressing pretty good," Amaro said before Thursday's game. "We'll see how he feels after tonight."
Amaro said Howard is running fairly well, although "he's had a tiny hitch in his giddy-up, I guess, but when he's running full speed, he looks pretty smooth."
Amaro said playing this weekend for the Phillies before the All-Star break might have its benefits.
"If he plays this weekend, it may not be the worst thing for him to get some time off," Amaro said. "You just don't know how he'll react and what kind of adrenaline there will be. We'll take it one day at a time with him."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.