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).
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.