Chase Utley hopes to be back before the All-Star break


According to Todd Zolecki of, Chase Utley spoke with reporters earlier this morning and said that he has made some progress with his ailing right knee. Specifically, he has begun to take some “light ground balls” over the past few days.

It doesn’t sound like much, but Utley said he is optimistic about avoiding surgery and getting back on the field at some point this season.

While Utley refused to offer a specific timetable for his return, he confirmed that one of his goals would be to play before the All-Star break. For what it’s worth, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. later added that they have no plans to place Utley on the 60-day disabled list, which at least opens the door for a return in the early part of the season.

Zolecki has the whole conversation over at his blog, so it’s worth checking out if you have the time, but this is my favorite part.

Q: Who is the specialist you saw? And how many have you seen?
A: If I tell you I have to kill you.

Q: What’s the big secret?
A: I don’t know. You guys know me by now, right?

This whole process has been clouded in such secrecy that I wouldn’t be surprised to see Utley blast a couple homers dressed as Green Man on Opening Day.

Blue Jays name J.A. Happ their Opening Day starter

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The Toronto Blue Jays have named J.A. Happ their Opening Day starter. He’ll face off against Luis Severino and the New York Yankees on March 29 in Toronto.

Based on last season’s stats you’d assume Marcus Stroman would get the Opening Day assignment, but he has been slowed by a right shoulder inflammation this spring. He’ll get three extra days rest to start the season and start the finale of the four-game series against the Yankees. After Happ will come Aaron Sanchez and Marco Estrada. Jaime Garcia will be the fifth starter.

Happ, 35, is entering the final year of a three-year, $36 million deal.  He went 10-11 with a 3.53 ERA in 25 starts last season.