Ryan Howard said he's eager to start a minor-league rehab assignment today at Single-A Lakewood.

He was cleared to do that by Phillies team physician Dr. Michael Ciccotti, who examined Howard after he did some agility drills and took batting and fielding practice Wednesday. Howard, who's coming off Achilles surgery last winter, will serve as the designated hitter at Lakewood today.

His 20-day rehab clock means that if all goes well, Howard could make his season debut July 18.