Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is likely to be in Philadelphia's starting lineup on Friday, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said after Thursday's loss to the Mets.

Earlier in the day Amaro had said it was possible Howard would return to the team sometime this weekend. But he upgraded that later by saying Howard is likely to be in the starting lineup Friday. He will visit team doctors Friday morning before making it official.

Howard, who had left Achilles surgery last fall, played in seven minor-league rehabilitation games, finishing with a 2-for-3, two-walk night at Triple-A Lehigh Valley Thursday. Hit went 10-for-20 with two doubles and one home run in the seven games at Class A Lakewood and Lehigh Valley.

He was scheduled to play in consecutive games at first base Thursday and Friday with Lehigh Valley, but now it appears his Friday game will be with the Phillies.

Amaro said Howard is running fairly well.

"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.