Chase Utley reported no problems after playing extended spring training games Saturday and Monday, so he’ll begin a minor-league rehab assignment at high Single-A tonight, according to Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News.
That the Phillies are allowing Utley to play on back-to-back days suggests he’s relatively far along in his recovery from knee problems, but rehab assignments are allowed to last as many as 20 days and they don’t seem to be rushing him back.
Wilson Valdez and Pete Orr have split time at second base in Utley’s absence, hitting just .235 with zero homers and a .561 OPS that ranks dead last among NL teams at the position.
The Reds announced earlier that they plan to extend the protective netting at Great American Ball Park in time for Opening Day next season. You can add the Padres and Mariners to what will surely be a growing list.
A young fan was struck in the face by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, which gave new life to the netting debate. Some fans and media types think Major League Baseball is not doing enough to protect fans. While Major League Baseball has issued guidelines for protective netting, it is ultimately up to the teams to decide just how much netting to use.
Orioles closer Zach Britton is likely done for the remainder of the 2017 season after receiving a stem cell injection in his left knee, Peter Schmuck and Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun report. Britton has been battling knee problems for most of the season.
The Orioles are still technically in the AL Wild Card race, entering play Thursday 5.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot. With only nine games remaining, however, the 73-80 Orioles are likely being realistic about their chances and not taking any unnecessary risks with Britton.
Britton, 29, put up a 2.89 ERA with 15 saves and a 29/18 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings this season. He will be eligible for arbitration for the fourth and final time this offseason.