Phillies cautiously optimistic about Utley, Halladay

Phillies cautiously optimistic about Utley, Halladay

February 12, 2013, 4:45 pm
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CLEARWATER, Fla. – The early returns on Chase Utley and Roy Halladay are good. Both are in Phillies camp early. Both appear to be healthy – or healthier than they have been in the past. A truer read will come when the pace of camp picks up in the coming weeks, but for now there is optimism.

Halladay, hampered by shoulder issues last season, has already thrown a handful of bullpen sessions.

Utley, who missed significant time the last two seasons because of chronic knee problems, has been taking ground balls all winter and continued to do so on Tuesday.

“Chase is doing great,” GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “He looks great. He feels ready to go.”

Re-starting baseball activity caused problems with Utley’s knees last winter. He hopes that continued activity this winter will eliminate those start-up problems. Amaro acknowledged that the team won’t know where Utley stands until he plays in games, but he believes Utley is in a good place.

“I don’t know if he’s cleared this thing,” Amaro said of Utley’s knee issues. “But we’ve managed it better and he’s managed it better and he feels ready to go. He’s done a lot to prepare himself and hopefully it all works.”

The team is formulating a plan on how to use Utley once the exhibition games start.

“We’re not going to play him every day,” Amaro said. “Typically we don’t play our guys every day in spring training. There’s no rush to get him in games in March. What’s important is he’s ready to play in April, but we do want to get him into some games in March because it hasn’t happened the last two years.”

Utley won’t speak to reporters until Saturday.

Halladay, who will speak to reporters after Wednesday’s workout, spent the winter trying to stabilize his shoulder by strengthening his core. He’s also made some adjustments to his delivery. Pitching coach Rich Dubee has watched Halladay throw for several weeks and is pleased.

“I see a stronger body, a stronger core, and I see a guy that’s not having some of the health issues he had last year,” Dubee said. “Time will tell but I know he’s done a lot of hard work. We’ll get him out there and build him up.

“The stronger core will allow him to stay in his delivery a lot better instead of having to peel out of it like he did last year, especially coming up and out of it with his front side. Again, he needs mound time. We don’t expect any of these guys to be real sharp out of the get-go. We just need to build on it and they’ll get better the more they go out there.”

Dubee acknowledged that a clearer picture of Halladay’s progress won’t emerge until the competition picks up in March.

“I’m not concerned with early because there’s new stuff in his delivery – a little different arm path, trying to maintain a shorter arm path,” Dubee said. “Early on, I’m not as concerned, but we’ll let him play it out and see where he’s at.”

With the exception of non-roster reliever Juan Cruz, all pitchers and catchers are in camp ready for Wednesday’s first workout. Amaro said there was a miscommunication with Cruz over the report date.

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