Before Friday’s game against the Twins, Chase Utley addressed comments by first base coach Davey Lopes that he is currently dealing with a knee injury (via Todd Zolecki of MLB.com).
“I think there’s a little confusion and maybe a little bit of a
difference of opinion with what Davey said,” Utley said before the game.
“In my opinion, an injury is something that keeps you off the field.
When you play 162-games-plus over the course of the year, you’re going
to have aches and pains. That’s part of this game. That’s part of being a
baseball player. In my opinion there’s no injury whatsoever.”
Utley acknowledged that he has occasional soreness in his right knee, but said that it isn’t affecting his performance at the plate. His answer may not satisfy everyone, but he made a compelling argument on the field on Friday night by going 2-for-5 with a three-run home run and matching a season-high with four RBI. He had gone 88 at-bats since his last home run on May 20 against the Cubs. Utley also scored from first base on a triple by Ryan Howard in the first inning and made a fantastic diving play to rob Denard Span of a hit in the top of the third inning.
Okay, so we’ve learned not to rattle Utley’s cage, but what happens with Lopes now?
“All I can tell you is that Davey is not our spokesman for our medical
stuff,” Amaro said. “That comes from me or [assistant general manager]
Scott Proefrock or [head athletic trainer] Scott Sheridan or Dr.
[Michael] Ciccotti. This is not an injury. This is more preventative.
Take it for what it’s worth, I guess.”
There’s no word on if the Philly Phanatic will take over as the first base coach on an interim basis, though the Phillies probably wouldn’t mind at this point since he (it?) has a natural ability of not talking to people.
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was one of the most prominent examples of service time manipulation in recent memory. He was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball going into the 2015 season by Baseball America. He then had an incredible spring, batting .425 with a spring-high nine home runs and 15 RBI. The Cubs, however, didn’t add him to the Opening Day roster, instead keeping him in Triple-A for the first two weeks of the season, ensuring the club would get another year of control over Bryant because he wouldn’t accrue enough service time. He made his debut on April 17 and the rest was history. Bryant won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award.
While the MLB Players Association filed a grievance on his behalf, Bryant didn’t say anything. But it was a learning moment for him. The same is true of the past offseason, which Bryant says “opened my eyes,” as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He now considers labor issues a priority, saying, “I need to study up, have my voice heard, continue to learn, because this is going to affect us for years to come. And I’d be foolish not to kind of offer myself out there.”
As Wittenmyer notes, Bryant hopes to replace Jake Arrieta as the Cubs’ player reprensentative. The players make that decision later this month. Bryant also vowed to fight for the next collective bargaining agreement. He said, “Maybe the focus was on other things rather than some of the more important things. But I think with this next one things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side just because we’re going to get the chance to experience the effects of some of the things we agreed to. The only way to get what you want here is to fight for it. And I think you’re going to see a lot of that.”
It’s good to see Bryant motivated by recent economic developments in baseball. Hopefully more players take his lead and become more informed, arming themselves with all of the tools they need to create a better situation for themselves when the current CBA expires.