Now the Phillies and Chase Utley won’t even talk about his health status

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For a while the Phillies tried to downplay the fact that Chase Utley wasn’t playing in any games this spring, insisting that it was being done to keep the second baseman and his bad knees from wearing down during the long season.

Eventually they had to give up that ghost because Utley left camp to be examined by a specialist and has zero chance of being ready for Opening Day, but now that he’s back at spring training today everyone has decided to simply stop giving any information about his status.

Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes that “Ruben Amaro Jr. declined to provide an update” and “Utley declined to make himself available to reporters.”

Across baseball the past few weeks have been filled with teams and players providing “optimistic” updates about injuries that give way to setbacks or further injuries or revealing that … well, they were kind of fibbing in the first place. That’s unfortunately become commonplace, but simply giving media members the silent treatment is a new one.

UPDATE: Gelb passes along word that the Phillies say Utley “will address reporters Sunday.” I’ll go out on a limb and say the news isn’t good, but I suppose we’ll have to wait 48 hours to find out for sure.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

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The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.