Sunday, May 22, 2011
Posted: 4:26 p.m. Updated: 5:55 p.m.By John R. Finger
Chase Utley turned up at the ballpark Sunday, and will return to the Phillies lineup on Monday night. Utley has missed the entire season with knee tendonitis, but had played nine rehab games for Single A Clearwater, where he went 9 for 32 with a homer, two doubles and six strikeouts.
Utley, as usual, chose against discussing baseball with the local media, but manager Charlie Manuel says he will have a spot for Utley in the lineup.
Third is what comes to mind first, Manuel said. Excited to have him back, looking forward to it.
Manuel said he and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. had a chat with Utley where, presumably, they laid out a plan for days off for the second baseman. Known for his hardnosed play, Utley is notorious for playing through pain and injuries when it would be wise to rest.
Yet, because his knee injury is related to overuse, Manuel says he expects more honesty from Utley about his health moving forward.
There will be times when he gets days off, Manuel said. Chase will be honest with me. Hell be totally honest with me.
Then again, Utley played 159 regular season games and 14 more in the postseason with a torn labrum in 2008. He also rushed back after offseason surgery in 2009 and played 156 that season, too. Had he not torn the ligament in his thumb last season, he likely would have played in 150-plus in 2010, as well.
So how does Manuel know Utley will be totally honest this time?
This is different, Manuel said. I think he sees this as something that makes sure that we have him for the rest of the season and makes sure that we have him for a couple of years. I think knowing him like I do, I think hell be totally honest with me.
Utley might not bring instant offense to the Phillies, but any little bit will help. Though they beat the Rangers in two out of the three games this weekend, the Phils scored just five runs and were shutout in the series finale. Additionally, the team has scored three runs or fewer in 10 straight games, which is two shy of the clubs all-time worst streak of 12 games with three or fewer, set last season from May 22 to June 4 and also in 1968.
Needless to say, Utleys return will be welcomed across the clubhouse.
Of course its great to get a player of Chases caliber, not only for what he does on the field, but also for what he brings to the clubhouse. Its a big boost for us, said Raul Ibanez, who had one of the Phillies five hits on Sunday.
I think weve hit some balls pretty good and there are some signs of life and I think its going to be a nice boost when you add Chase Utley to your lineup.
To clear space on the 25-man roster for Utley, the Phillies optioned utility man Pete Orr to Triple A Lehigh Valley.
Blanton to DL (officially)
In another move, the Phillies officially placed righthander Joe Blanton on the 15-day disabled list with a sore elbow. To replace Blanton on the roster, the Phils have brought back Vance Worley (2-0, 1.13). Worley last pitched on May 18 for Lehigh Valley, so he could take Blantons turn in the rotation against Cincinnati on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Phillies announced they had signed longtime big-league veteran Scott Podsednik to a minor league contract on Sunday. He played 134 games for the Dodgers and Royals in 2010 and has 301 stolen bases during his 10 seasons in the majors.
The Phillies open a four-game series against the Cincinnati Reds on Monday to close out the nine-game homestand. Cole Hamels (5-2, 2.92) is expected to pitch in Mondays game against righty Bronson Arroyo (3-4, 4.11). The club hasnt yet named a starter for Tuesdays game to replace the injured Blanton. However, Roy Halladay (6-3, 2.21) faces Travis Wood (3-3, 5.17) on Wednesday night with Cliff Lee (3-4, 3.38) going against Homer Bailey (3-1, 2.08) in Thursday afternoons finale.
From there, the Phillies go to New York, Washington and Pittsburgh.
E-mail John R. Finger at firstname.lastname@example.org