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.

Report: Momentum in talks between Mariners, Jon Jay

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MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that there is some momentum in talks between the Mariners and free agent outfielder Jon Jay.

Jay, 32, hit .296/.374/.375 in 433 plate appearances with the Cubs last season, which is adequate. He’s heralded more for his defense and his ability to play all three outfield spots.

The Mariners are losing center fielder Jarrod Dyson to free agency and likely don’t want to rely on Guillermo Heredia next season, hence the interest in Jay. The free agent class for center fielders is otherwise relatively weak.