Manuel: Chase Utley is “slowly getting better”

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Phillies second baseman Chase Utley is finally beginning to show signs of progress in his ongoing recovery from right knee tendinitis.

According to Dave Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News, Utley has been cleared to start a running program and did some light jogging on Wednesday without feeling any abnormal discomfort in his knee.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel expressed some optimism about his All-Star second baseman on Thursday, but cautioned that Utley is not close to returning to the major league starting lineup.

“It’s still the same,” Manuel said. “It’s a day-to-day thing. He’s slowly getting better. He’s slowly feeling better. Hopefully, he keeps going that way.”

The Phillies have given most of the open playing time at second base to Wilson Valdez, who has rewarded them with a cool .353/.389/.441 batting line and five RBI through 37 plate appearances. That high level of production won’t last, but the Fightin’ Phils have enough pitching and enough other pieces to remain near the top of the National League East standings until Utley is finally ready to roar.

There have been three walkoff grand slams in the past week

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Last night Jason Kipnis led the Indians to victory over the Chicago White Sox via a walkoff grand slam. Such a beast is a pretty special, but lately they’ve been surprisingly common. Indeed, Kipnis’ walkoff slam was the third one in the space of a week.

Francisco Mejia of the Padres hit a walkoff salami on Sunday afternoon to lead San Diego over the Texas Rangers. Sal Perez of the Royals did the deed on Friday against the Twins.

As Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com tweeted this morning, there were only two walkoff grand slams in the entire 2016 season. Having three in a week is pretty darn cool, eh?