Chase Utley takes ground balls at third base, is open to a position switch

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Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that Chase Utley took ground balls at third base today “to see if it would be option down road.”

And according to David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News the longtime second baseman recently “approached Ruben Amaro Jr. and asked the Phillies general manager whether he thought playing some third base in the future was realistic.”

Utley has been one of the best all-around second basemen in baseball for a decade, including what has typically been underrated defense, but at age 33 and with all kinds of knee problems a position switch could make some sense.

It would also give the Phillies more flexibility as they pursue infield targets to replace Placido Polanco, whose option for 2013 will almost surely be declined. Of course, Utley told Murphy that it was his first time taking ground balls at third base in 10 years and his arm strength has never been great even at second base, so for now it’s just an idea.

Cardinals place Dexter Fowler on the disabled list

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The Cardinals announced on Tuesday that outfielder Dexter Fowler has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left forearm. Outfielder Harrison Bader was recalled from Triple-A Memphis to take Fowler’s spot on the roster.

It’s not clear when Fowler suffered the injury, but he went 0-for-12 since a three-hit performance last Friday. He’s hitting .241/.333/.452 with 14 home runs and 37 RBI in 333 plate appearances this season.

Bader, 23, is the Cardinals’ No. 6 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. This season, with Memphis, Bader hit .297/.354/.517 with 19 home runs and 48 RBI in 381 PA.

Dodgers, Cubs could be interested in Justin Verlander

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Jon Morosi of MLB Network said yesterday that the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs have been engaged in trade talks involving starting pitcher Justin Verlander and catcher Alex Avila. Morosi also noted that the Los Angeles Dodgers have shown interest in Verlander as well. Whether this is idyl chitchatting of serious dispute is unclear, of course. Everything is unclear in the leadup to the deadline.

The veteran right-hander is carrying a 4.50 with a 120/57 K/BB ratio over 124 innings. Verlander impressed last year, finishing second in AL Cy Young Award balloting, but he has fallen back to Earth in 2017. His velocity remains high, however, and it’s not hard to imagine him going on a solid run in a way that could help a contender. He is owed $56 million over the next two seasons, however, and has a $22 million option that could vest for 2020, so negotiations for him could be tough. If the Tigers want talent back, they’ll have to eat salary.

Verlander got an ovation from a Detroit crowd last night which seemed to sense that, yes, it’s possible he pitched his last game for the Tigers. Given that he has 10/5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade, that decision is ultimately up to him. It’s not hard to imagine him accepting a trade to a contender, however.

We wait see.