In an effort to keep him healthy after last season’s knee problems the Phillies are planning to limit Chase Utley’s playing time during spring training.
Charlie Manuel told Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inqurier that Utley won’t be in the lineup for the Phillies’ spring opener Saturday and “it might be a little while before I play him.”
Utley and Manuel talked previously about the plan and the second baseman is fine with the limited action, warning: “You guys might not see me on the field on a daily basis, so don’t freak out if that happens.”
Utley missed 59 games last season and also posted career-lows in batting average (.259), on-base percentage (.344), and slugging percentage (.425). Of course, career-lows for Utley are still pretty good, as his .769 OPS was significantly above the NL average for second baseman (.699).
Thursday is September 1, which means rosters expand. As a result, the Nationals plan to promote pitcher Mat Latos to the major league roster, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Latos had an opt-out clause for Monday, but after discussing the matter with the team, he agreed to stay at Triple-A Syracuse until Thursday.
Latos, 28, put up a 4.62 ERA over 11 starts with the White Sox before being released in mid-June. Nearly two weeks later, he signed a minor league contract with the Nationals.
In the Nationals’ minor league system, Latos has made three starts for the club’s Gulf Coast League team as well as three for Syracuse. In aggregate, the right-hander has yielded six runs (four earned) on 20 hits and 10 walks with 28 strikeouts in 28 innings.
Latos will likely pitch out of a long relief role for the Nationals and can be used as starting rotation insurance as well.
Mark Buehrle hasn’t officially retired, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in professional baseball since last October. Still, the Blue Jays wouldn’t mind having some insurance, so manager John Gibbons recently texted Buehrle, “You know, rosters expand in September,” Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports.
Buehrle’s response? He texted back a picture of a lake. Sounds like he’s not interested in making a return, at least this year.
Last year, at the age of 36, Buehrle went 15-8 with a 3.81 ERA with a 91/33 K/BB ratio in 198 2/3 innings while leading the league with four complete games. He fell 1 1/3 innings shy of a 15th consecutive 200-inning season. There are many worse ways to end a career.