The Phillies still aren’t putting an official timetable on Chase Utley’s rehabilitation from patellar tendinitis, but general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. did offer some optimism on Saturday evening.
According to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, Amaro told reporters on Saturday afternoon that he’s hopeful Utley will be ready to return to the Phillies’ starting lineup before the end of May.
Utley was cleared to begin a running program only nine days ago and has already progressed to straight-line sprints. He has also been participating in light fielding drills and has avoided setbacks to this point.
The Phillies have been using Wilson Valdez primarily at second base since the regular season began. He got off to a hot start but has just one hit in his last 16 at-bats and is down to a .264/.316/.321 batting line.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: