Chase Utley homers in first extended spring training game

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Get excited, Phillies fans. Chase Utley played in a baseball game this afternoon.

According to John Finger of CSNPhilly.com, Utley went 3-for-4 with a homer and a double while serving as the designated hitter in an extended spring training game.

While it was an encouraging first step, it’s not clear when Utley will be ready to test his left knee by playing the field. With that in mind, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was asked about whether the team has considered playing him at first base in order to put less stress on his knees. He didn’t completely dismiss the possibility.

“He’s played first base. He’s OK at first base,” Manuel said. “He hasn’t played there enough to say he’s a bona fide first baseman and stuff. I mean, there’s still footwork and stuff around the bag that he would need to improve on.

“I think it’s something before we go a long ways about it, we need to sit down and talk to him and see how he feels about it.”

Obviously Utley would have a big say on whether a position change would happen and the big variable in the equation is when Ryan Howard will be ready to return from Achilles’ tendon surgery. But it’s an interesting possibility to monitor.

Miles Mikolas open to extension with Cardinals

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Though he has only accumulated just over two years of service time in the major leagues, Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas can become a free agent after the 2019 season due to language in his current two-year, $15.5 million contract. He is open to signing a contract extension with the Cardinals, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Mikolas said, “It’s something that the Cardinals and my agency have to work out – if the numbers work out and everything turns out to be it’s absolutely something that could happen.” His agent, from Octagon, has had discussions with the Cardinals about a framework for an extension.

Mikolas, 30, spent the 2015-17 seasons pitching for the Yomiuri Giants in the Japan Central League. He had great results, which he was able to leverage into a contract back in the U.S. Last season, his first in the majors since 2014, he finished sixth in NL Cy Young balloting and earned a spot on the NL All-Star roster. The right-hander went 18-4 with a 2.83 ERA and a 146/29 K/BB ratio in 200 2/3 innings.

This coming season, Mikolas will be part of a starting rotation that also includes Carlos Martínez, Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, and Adam Wainwright.