The Phillies have officially refused to press the panic button with respect to Chase Utley’s wonky knee. The official word: there may be something more going on than mere soreness and tendinitis, but they are hoping for some improvement soon. Today, however, Paul Hagen says that “the fret level around Bright House Field is a lot higher than the public What-Us-Worry? posture suggests.” He goes on to outline the Phillies potential moves to deal with a longer-than-expected Utley absence.
The “fret level” thing is impossible for any of us to verify, of course. I think the larger discussion of injuries and alternatives — for Utley and anyone else — is more interesting, though, because it could tell us more about the Phillies chances this year than anything else. It’s easy to look at the Phillies’ roster and write them down as the NL East champs in ink, but it’s also the case that this team is older than most contenders. Any team is sunk if it suffers injuries, but older teams are more likely to have injuries.
Last year there was a serious case for Charlie Manuel to win Manager of the Year because he held the team together despite a bunch of injuries during the pre-Oswalt months of the season. If Utley is hurt worse than we think and if other veteran Phillies hands suffer maladies, Cholly may have to reach into his bag of tricks again.
The Rangers will not sign free agent reliever Seung-hwan Oh after all. Reports from MLB.com’s TR Sullivan indicate that negotiations were brought to a halt after a physical issue was found with the pitcher. While the specifics have yet to be released, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News says the issue was revealed on an MRI of the right-hander’s arm.
Oh was thought to be in talks with the Rangers last week, though a deal was never officially announced by the club. The 35-year-old righty is fresh off of a two-year run with the Cardinals, during which he posted a cumulative 39 saves, 2.85 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.2 SO/9 in 139 innings. He struggled with consistency in his sophomore season, however, and finished 2017 with a disappointing 4.10 ERA and 4.44 FIP in 62 appearances for the team.
While Oh hasn’t experienced any setbacks with his arm in the majors so far, he does have a history of prior injuries during his time in KBO. He sustained a shoulder injury in 2009 and underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow in 2010. It’s possible that the Rangers saw an entirely different problem on the MRI, but clearly it was enough to give them strong reservations about inking the righty to a $2.75+ million deal. It’s still possible that another of Oh’s suitors will offer him a contract prior to Opening Day; the Giants were rumored to be interested in the veteran reliever, among other teams, though their recent acquisition of lefty reliever Tony Watson will likely take them out of the running now.