Manuel: Chase Utley is “slowly getting better”

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Phillies second baseman Chase Utley is finally beginning to show signs of progress in his ongoing recovery from right knee tendinitis.

According to Dave Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News, Utley has been cleared to start a running program and did some light jogging on Wednesday without feeling any abnormal discomfort in his knee.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel expressed some optimism about his All-Star second baseman on Thursday, but cautioned that Utley is not close to returning to the major league starting lineup.

“It’s still the same,” Manuel said. “It’s a day-to-day thing. He’s slowly getting better. He’s slowly feeling better. Hopefully, he keeps going that way.”

The Phillies have given most of the open playing time at second base to Wilson Valdez, who has rewarded them with a cool .353/.389/.441 batting line and five RBI through 37 plate appearances. That high level of production won’t last, but the Fightin’ Phils have enough pitching and enough other pieces to remain near the top of the National League East standings until Utley is finally ready to roar.

Mariners designate Leonys Martin for assignment

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The Mariners made a handful of roster moves on Sunday afternoon. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. The club optioned pitcher Chase De Jong to Triple-A Tacoma, designated outfielder Leonys Martin for assignment, and recalled first baseman Dan Vogelbach and pitcher Chris Heston from Triple-A.

Martin, 29, struggled to start the season, batting .111/.172/.130 in 58 plate appearances. As Divish noted, Martin was very popular with his teammates in Seattle, so the move was particularly difficult. He is owed the remainder of his $4.85 million salary, making it likely that he’ll clear waivers.

De Jong, 23, struggled in 4 2/3 innings of relief, yielding three runs on three hits and three walks with two strikeouts.

Heston, 29, got off to a good start with Tacoma, putting up a 3.18 ERA over his first three starts.

Vogelbach, 24, was hitting .309/.409/.473 with a pair of home runs in 66 PA with Tacoma, encouraging his call-up.

Tom Glavine and Tagg Romney are interested in purchasing the Marlins

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As it turns out, Derek Jeter isn’t the only former major leaguer interested in the Marlins. Bloomberg’s Scott Soshnick reports that Hall of Fame hurler Tom Glavine has entered the bidding process as part of a group that includes Tagg Romney and several carefully-selected investors. Soshnick adds that Tagg’s father, Mitt Romney, is not part of the bidding process for the Marlins, though Glavine and Romney’s relationship makes an interesting parallel with Derek Jeter and Jeb Bush’s potential partnership during the sale.

According to an unnamed source, current Marlins’ owner Jeffrey Loria is said be fielding offers ranging from $1.2 to $1.3 billion. (To put those figures in perspective, the initial purchase price for the team was $158 million in 2002.) Glavine recently spoke to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo about the bidding process, and revealed that he had been involved in talks about a potential bid since last summer. He also expressed a willingness to step into a leadership role with the Marlins, should the opportunity arise:

I certainly want a role. I’m not going to say I’m the GM, but I know the game pretty well. I understand it. There’s a lot on the business side that I don’t understand, so I’m open-minded about what the best role for me would be and what I like to do the most.

On the one hand, I don’t want to be pompous enough to say I want to step in and run this thing, but at the same time I want to be looking for where I would be best served for the organization if it happens.

Glavine and Romney are currently thought to comprise one of three major parties bidding on the Marlins, including Jeter/Bush and Quogue Capital president Wayne P. Rothbaum.