Chase Utley Is Tonight's Starting Second Baseman

Chase Utley Is Tonight's Starting Second Baseman

It's official: the Phillies have activated Chase Utley, and the second baseman is expected back in the lineup immediately. It would've been nice if it had happened a little sooner, say a month a ago (or spring training, sure), but better later than never I suppose.

Utley returns with the Phillies eight games back in the NL East, 4.5 behind a Wild Card spot. If your first question was whether or not he's joining the club in time to still make the playoffs, the answer is obviously a resounding yes.

If your question is what kind of player will be stepping out of the dugout tonight for the first time this season, and are his contributions going to play enough of a role to help turn the ship around, the answer is far less certain.

Either way, we'll take our chances.

The Phillies got better today, that much is unmistakeable. It doesn't change the fact that they are still battling injuries, or that the rotation has been less than dominant, or that the bullpen has been the opposite of dominant. They are better off with Utley than without though, and his presence alone could be a shot in the arm for his teammates.

Yet as exciting as tonight is, the five-time All Star's decline has been well documented, steady and consistent. After he came back in May of last year, he wound up having his worst season since '04, the year he became the permanent everyday second baseman.

So what kind of numbers does Chase Utley have to put up the rest of the way for this to be considered a successful campaign? It's probably not reasonable to expect '07 Utley to return, but is another season like last -- when he hit .259 with 11 HR and 44 RBI in 103 games -- going to cut it?

Sure, it's still better than what they have, but better than what they have isn't necessarily good enough for post-season baseball.

Phillies' rookie Zach Eflin has surgery on left knee

Phillies' rookie Zach Eflin has surgery on left knee

Six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair the patella tendon in his right knee, Phillies rookie Zach Eflin went under the knife again Friday.

As expected, Eflin had the same surgery - performed by Dr. Steve Cohen - done on his left knee.

According to the Phillies, Eflin will be immobilized for six weeks and is expected to make a full recovery.

Eflin, 22, has been dealing with knee problems since he was about 11 years old. The issues caused him to make just 11 starts in his rookie campaign. 

“You know this is an issue he’s been fighting since he was a kid,” general manager Matt Klentak said on the day of Eflin’s first surgery in August. “I think he told me since he was 11 years old, he first started battling knee problems. The hope here is that it’s going to alleviate the problem. And that he’s not going to have to deal with it. And in just talking candidly with Zach last night, while not excited to undergo the knife today, he was pretty excited about the possibility of coming to spring training next year pain-free for the first time in his life.”

That is still the expectation.

Eflin finished his rookie year 3-5 with a 5.54 ERA in 63 ⅓ innings pitched. He was 5-2 with a 2.90 ERA in 68 ⅓ innings at Triple A Lehigh Valley.

Temple's Trey Lowe to redshirt as recovery from car accident continues

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Temple's Trey Lowe to redshirt as recovery from car accident continues

Temple head coach Fran Dunphy had a feeling some bad news would come regarding guard Trey Lowe's status for the coming season. On Friday, it was made official.

Lowe, a freshman who suffered serious upper-body injuries in a single-car crash in his native New Jersey last February, will miss all of the 2016-17 season and take a medical redshirt as he continues to recover, Dunphy announced on Friday.

"We all feel that this is in the best interest for Trey, as a person, a basketball player and a student," Dunphy said in a statement released by the university. "We feel at this time that concentrating on his rehabilitation this year will give him the best chance to come back strong and healthy for 2017-18. Trey will still be a big part of the team during this redshirt year, while continuing to work with our medical and strength team in preparation for his full return to action.”

Lowe was just starting to come into his own at the collegiate level around the time of the unfortunate accident. In a Feb. 17 game at the Liacouras Center against then-No.1 and eventual national champion Villanova, Lowe dropped a career-high 21 points. Though the Owls lost, 83-67, Lowe had made an impact and earned the trust of Dunphy, which isn't easy to do as a freshman.

A three-star recruit, Lowe played in all 28 games, including five starts, prior to his injury and averaged 4.8 points and 1.8 assists in 12.3 minutes per game. He would be a redshirt sophomore if he's ready to return for the 2017-18 season.

The absence of Lowe will leave the Owls particularly thin at guard this year. You may recall senior point guard Josh Brown, who was to be counted on as the Owls' leader this season, tore his Achilles tendon during an offseason workout. His status for this season is still unknown as he continues to rehab from his injury.

Junior forward Obi Enechionyia, who averaged 11 points per game last season, is Temple's leading returning scorer.

The onus to produce at guard will be placed on redshirt senior Daniel Dingle and sophomore Shizz Alston, Jr. True freshmen Quinton Rose and Alani Moore will also likely have to chip in.

They have just over a month to get ready. Temple hosts La Salle in both schools' season opener on Friday, Nov. 11 at the Liacouras Center.