Chase Utley finally broke his silence earlier this afternoon and while he didn’t say much, he told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that he would like to play in a game next week.
The Phillies always planned to bring Utley along slowly this spring due to his chronic right knee condition, but there are some minor signs that things that haven’t gone according to plan. The 33-year-old second baseman takes batting practice pretty regularly, but as David Hale of the News Journal notes, he backed off taking grounders after feeling pain in his knee early in camp.
Phillies’ general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. continues to express optimism about Utley being ready for Opening Day, but we won’t know much about his status until he begins pushing himself in game action. It’s believed that he’ll need somewhere around 40 to 50 at-bats in order to be ready for the start of the season, so he could be eased into action as a designated hitter on the minor league side before picking up the intensity by playing defense in major league games.
Utley began last season on the disabled list due to his knee condition and didn’t make his debut until May 23. He ended up batting .259/.344/.425 with 11 homers, 44 RBI, 14 stolen bases and a .769 OPS over 454 plate appearances in the regular season and .438 (7-for-18) with two doubles, one triple and one RBI during the NLDS against the Cardinals.
The Yankees fell behind early to the Orioles on Sunday afternoon, a day after dropping both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader. Their game, as did every other game on Sunday with the exception of the Braves-Cardinals doubleheader, started at 3:05 or 3:10 EDT, a change Major League Baseball recently made to create fairness on the final day of the season.
Girardi is not a fan. Per the Associated Press:
It was cloudy at Camden Yards at 3:05 p.m., but late-afternoon games often make it difficult for batters to see pitches.
Girardi said, “Here’s the thing that bothers me: If it’s a sunny day you’re playing in shadows.”
He added, “If it’s the most important game of the year to get in, I don’t think that’s right.”
Understanding the idea is for every team to play at the same time, Girardi said, “Then play all night games.”
One wonders if MLB had scheduled Sunday’s slate of games for the night, if Girardi would have instead complained about batters losing fly balls in the stadium lights. Furthermore, both teams have to play in the same conditions.
Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki was given an opportunity to play a new position in Sunday’s series finale against the Phillies. After the Phillies rallied to take a 6-2 lead in the seventh, the Marlins let Suzuki take the hill in the eighth. And, in news that surprises no one, he was impressive.
Though Suzuki gave up a run on two hits, he flashed a fastball that hit the mid-80’s and a breaking ball with some bite.
Suzuki, who turns 42 years old later this month, is 65 hits of 3,000 in his major league career. The Marlins are interested in bringing him back in 2016.