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.

Report: Reds sign Ben Revere

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The Reds have signed outfielder Ben Revere to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Revere is expected to take home a salary between $1 million and $1.5 million if he makes the major league roster, Heyman adds.

Revere, 29, spent last season with the Angels. He batted a light .275/.308/.344 in 308 plate appearances. Revere does have some speed as he stole 21 bases last year.

Revere will try to earn a spot on the roster as a backup outfielder. The Reds’ starting spots are spoken for with Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton, and Scott Schebler.