Chase Utley takes ground balls at third base, is open to a position switch

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Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that Chase Utley took ground balls at third base today “to see if it would be option down road.”

And according to David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News the longtime second baseman recently “approached Ruben Amaro Jr. and asked the Phillies general manager whether he thought playing some third base in the future was realistic.”

Utley has been one of the best all-around second basemen in baseball for a decade, including what has typically been underrated defense, but at age 33 and with all kinds of knee problems a position switch could make some sense.

It would also give the Phillies more flexibility as they pursue infield targets to replace Placido Polanco, whose option for 2013 will almost surely be declined. Of course, Utley told Murphy that it was his first time taking ground balls at third base in 10 years and his arm strength has never been great even at second base, so for now it’s just an idea.

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.