Evan Hilbert
Friday January 6th, 2012

Philadelphia Phillies' first baseman Ryan Howard has been cleared by doctors to begin exercising, the team announced Thursday. Howard had surgery to repair a ruptured left achilles in October, and he will likely be able to resume baseball activities by February -- just prior to the beginning of spring training.

It is even possible that Howard could be ready to go by Opening Day, though Phillies' general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. refused to go that far.

"I can't even speculate," Amaro said. "All I know is that it's nice to know that at some point in Spring Training, that he'll start doing some light baseball activities. I think it is good news." Howard hit .253/.346/.488 last year in Philadelphia, with 33 home runs and 116 RBI.

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