Phillies expected to activate Chase Utley on Wednesday

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Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com has the good news on Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, who made it through eight innings Saturday evening in his final rehab game with the Single-A Clearwater Threshers:

Utley is now expected to travel to Philadelphia for the final stage of his rehab assignment. That is likely to include his playing in one more minor-league game, probably Tuesday at Triple A Lehigh Valley, before being activated for Wednesday’s game against Pittsburgh – provided there are no setbacks.

The 33-year-old has been on the disabled list since the end of spring training because of a degenerative issue behind his left kneecap.

Utley batted .259/.344/.425 with 11 home runs and 44 RBI in 103 regular-season games last year before going 7-for-16 (.438/.571/.688) in Philadelphia’s NLDS loss to the Cardinals. The Phillies — currently 8 1/2 games back in the National League East — will hope that he can provide a serious offensive spark.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.