Phillies GM is “cautiously optimistic” Chase Utley will be full-time player in 2013


Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. gave an update on Chase Utley’s health status yesterday, saying he’s “cautiously optimistic” the second baseman will be a full-time player in 2013 after missing much of 2012 with chronic knee problems.

“He’s done very well this offseason,” Amaro said, via Corey Seidman of “He’s taking groundballs pretty much every other day. He didn’t take a whole lot of time off. I think we’ve all learned, including Chase, that it probably behooves him to continue to work and be able to do things to keep his joints going, keep his knees going. He’s actually done very well.”

Utley missed the first 76 games, but then played 83 of the final 86 games while hitting .256 with 11 homers and a .793 OPS.

Amaro admitted that the Phillies plan to “monitor him” during spring training, adding: “We’re going to have a discussion prior to spring training about how he’s going to be utilized going into the spring.”

Blue Jays sign Danny Espinosa to minors deal

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Free agent middle infielder Danny Espinosa signed a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays, the team announced Saturday. The deal includes an invite to spring training, where Espinosa is scheduled for his first split-squad game against the Orioles this afternoon.

Espinosa, 30, was inked to another minor-league deal with the Yankees in January. The veteran infielder was competing for an infield job until the team picked up second baseman Neil Walker on a one-year, $4 million deal last Monday. Prior to his release, he slashed .160/.276/.320 with one home run through his first 12 games with the Yankees this spring. He didn’t fare much better in the majors last year, either, batting a cumulative .173/.245/.278 with six home runs and a .523 OPS in 295 PA for the Mariners and Rays.

Blue Jays starting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is still dealing with a bone spur in his heel and has officially been ruled out for Opening Day, which could clear a path for Espinosa to claim a starting role in Toronto. Of course, he won’t be the only candidate under consideration — Yangervis Solarte and Aledmys Diaz are still in the mix as well, though no final decision appears to be made just yet.