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.
As per tradition, towards the end of the regular season, veterans on baseball’s various clubs haze the rookies by making them dress up and do something a bit embarrassing. That used to include things like making rookies dress up like women and carry pink backpacks, but Major League Baseball banned that practice, so veterans had to get marginally more creative.
The Phillies had their rookies — including Rhys Hoskins, J.P. Crawford, and Nick Williams — dress up like characters in Grease and perform “Greased Lightning” at their hotel in Atlanta on Friday night. Not only did the Phils’ vets and other members of the crew get a free show, but so did employees of the hotel and nearby hotel patrons.
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As MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki explains, Hoskins was the inspiration for the gag as he has earned the nickname “Rhys Lightning.” (Rhys, for the uninitiated, rhymes with “Grease.”) Hoskins said, “You always hear about team chemistry. I think stuff like that let’s you get to know guys on a different level, when you’re not at the field. You just become more personable with people. The better relationships you have, there’s a different level of playing for each other. And I think that’s usually a sign of a good team.”
The Twins also had some fun at the rookies’ expense:
Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge went yard twice in Sunday afternoon’s 9-5 loss to the Blue Jays, bringing his season total up to 48. That leaves him just one home run shy of tying the single-season rookie record set by Mark McGwire with the Athletics in 1987.
After Sunday’s performance, Judge is hitting .281/.416/.610 with 48 home runs, 105 RBI, and 122 runs scored in 651 plate appearances. He has the AL Rookie of the Year Award on lock and is neck-and-neck with the Astros’ Jose Altuve, Chris Sale of the Red Sox, and the Indians’ Corey Kluber in the AL MVP Award race.