According to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, the Phillies provided an update about Chase Utley’s ailing right knee this morning. Well, sort of.
We didn’t learn much, but Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said that Utley has been able to do more exercises than before.
“These are kind of baby steps,” Amaro said. “I can’t sit here and say he’s this is a giant step forward or he’s going to be ready for Opening Day or anything like that. We’re comfortable with the path. It may take a while. We’ll see if he continues to show progression. Hopefully he will.
“I don’t know if it’s good news or not good news. It’s just news. It’s not a lot of news. The main thrust of this discussion is that we’ve made some consultations, we’ve done some research, and right now we’re going to stay with the rehab stuff we’re doing right now and hopefully it will keep moving forward.”
While the Phillies have sought other opinions on the condition of Utley’s knee, he is not currently scheduled to meet with outside doctors or specialists.
We can’t really say that today’s update is a bad thing, but it doesn’t sound like he’s any closer to being ready for the early part of the season.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.