Is Chase Utley’s knee worse than the Phillies are letting on?

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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.

Anthony Alford to miss 4-6 weeks following wrist surgery

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Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.

Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.

Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.

Stephen Strasburg hit a new career high today

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Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.

It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.

While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.

The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”