Chase Utley’s 2012 debut is off to a rocking start.
The veteran second baseman — who missed nearly three months due to a knee injury — blasted a solo home run to deep right field in the bottom of the first inning Wednesday night against the Pirates. It was his first plate appearance since last October 7.
Carlos Ruiz followed with a solo shot of his own, lifting the Phils to an early 2-0 lead over the Bucs.
Utley hit just .189/.279/.351 on his 10-game rehab assignment, but that rust has clearly not followed him back to the bigs. And he should continue to provide a spark for a team that has badly needed one.
The Phillies entered play Wednesday with a poor 36-40 record, ranking fourth in the five-team NL East.
UPDATE, 8:03 PM: Utley nearly went deep again in his second at-bat, driving a ball to the warning track in center field. Andrew McCutchen was able to haul it in. The Pirates are up 3-2 in the third inning.
UPDATE, 9:07 PM: Utley legged out an infield single in the sixth, running well down the line. It’s 8-4, Bucs.
UPDATE, 9:41 PM: Utley singled to right in his fourth at-bat. The Phillies are rallying and trail by just one.
UPDATE, 10:09 PM: That rally has been stunted, as noted by CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury:
The Pirates have scored three runs in the top of the eighth and are now leading the Phillies 11-7.
UPDATE, 10:39 PM: That 11-7 lead holds as the Pirates win. Utley went 3-for-5 in his season debut.
The Giants have acquired All-Star infielder Eduardo Nunez from the Twins in exchange for minor league pitcher Adalberto Mejia, the club announced on Thursday night.
Nunez, 29, went 0-for-4 in Thursday night’s game against the Orioles. He’s hitting .296/.325/.439 with 12 home runs, 47 RBI, 49 runs scored, and a league-best 26 stolen bases in 391 plate appearances this season. Nunez has played mostly at shortstop this season, but has also logged significant time at third base and a handful of games at second base, so he’ll give the Giants some versatility.
Nunez will likely play a lot of third base for the Giants as Matt Duffy is still sidelined with a strained left Achilles. He’s earning $1.475 million this season and will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility heading into 2017.
Mejia, 23, was considered the Giants’ seventh-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He earned a promotion to Triple-A Sacramento last month after posting a 1.94 ERA with Double-A Richmond. In seven starts with Sacramento, he has a 4.20 ERA with a 43/11 K/BB ratio in 40 2/3 innings.
With a roster spot open, the Twins called up infield prospect Jorge Polanco from Triple-A Rochester, per MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY reports that the Mariners have received “strong” trade interest for starter Taijuan Walker. The right-hander is currently on the mend from tendinitis in his right foot. He’ll throw a bullpen on Friday at Wrigley Field with scouts in attendance.
Walker, 23, has a 3.66 ERA with an 80/18 K/BB ratio in 86 innings this season. It’s his first bit of sustained success at the major league level. What’s arguably just as intriguing is the fact that Walker will be under team control through 2020.
The Mariners have been hovering around .500 for the last month and entered Thursday six games behind the first-place Rangers in the AL West and 4.5 games out of the second AL Wild Card slot, behind three other teams as well as the two Wild Card leaders. It’s enough uncertainty which could push the Mariners to sell.