Thursday, May 12, 2011
Posted: 3:50 p.m.
By Jim Salisbury
CLEARWATER, Fla. Its Thursday afternoon and theres a big-league feel in the air at Bright House Field.
Thats because second baseman Chase Utley, catcher Carlos Ruiz and pitcher Roy Oswalt will all play for the Single A Clearwater Threshers in a minor-league rehab game on Thursday night.
Oswalt, on the disabled list recovering from a sore back, figures to throw about 75 pitches. If all goes well, he could return to the Phillies rotation on Tuesday in St. Louis.
Ruiz, also recovering from a sore back, figures to be activated in time for Friday nights game in Atlanta. The Phils could put another catcher, Brian Schneider, on the DL at that time. Schneider injured his left hamstring Thursday night in Miami.
Utleys timetable is uncertain. Thursday nights game will mark the first time he has played the field in an official game since October. He did get some innings in extended spring training games last week.
Phillies officials say Utley needs at-bats and to play the field several days in a row before he is activated. The best bet remains that he is ready to go sometime during the coming homestand, which begins on Wednesday and runs through May 26. Utleys return is contingent on him not having any setbacks with his tendinitis-stricken right knee.
The big-league club is off Thursday night so all eyes will be on the Clearwater game. The Threshers play the Palm Beach Cardinals. First pitch is 7 p.m. The game will be televised live on Comcast SportsNet with Jim Jackson and Ricky Bottalico calling the action.
In addition to Utley, Ruiz and Oswalt, there will be several other interesting players in the game, including left fielder Jonathan Singleton. The 19-year-old Californian is hailed as one of the best hitting prospects in baseball. He is the youngestplayer in the Florida State League and is hitting .303 with a homer and 10 RBIs in 23 games.
Singleton will play aside centerfielder Jiwan James, another highly regarded prospect. James, 22, had a chance to play football and baseball at the University of Florida, but chose to sign with the Phillies after being selected in the 22nd round of 2007 draft. He is a converted pitcher whose lanky build is similar to Domonic Browns.
Joe Savery will be Clearwaters DH. He was the Phillies first-round pick in 2007, a left-handed pitcher out of Rice University. Savery, 25, is making the conversion back to position player and is hitting .389.
Clearwaters shortstop is Troy Hanzawa, an excellent glove man who played behind Washington Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg at San Diego State University.
Righthander Joe Kelly, a third-round pick in 2009, pitches for Palm Beach.
E-mail Jim Salisbury at firstname.lastname@example.org