Phillies GM is “cautiously optimistic” Chase Utley will be full-time player in 2013

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Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. gave an update on Chase Utley’s health status yesterday, saying he’s “cautiously optimistic” the second baseman will be a full-time player in 2013 after missing much of 2012 with chronic knee problems.

“He’s done very well this offseason,” Amaro said, via Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com. “He’s taking groundballs pretty much every other day. He didn’t take a whole lot of time off. I think we’ve all learned, including Chase, that it probably behooves him to continue to work and be able to do things to keep his joints going, keep his knees going. He’s actually done very well.”

Utley missed the first 76 games, but then played 83 of the final 86 games while hitting .256 with 11 homers and a .793 OPS.

Amaro admitted that the Phillies plan to “monitor him” during spring training, adding: “We’re going to have a discussion prior to spring training about how he’s going to be utilized going into the spring.”

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.