Offseason reports about Chase Utley’s chronic knee problems and overall health were all fairly optimistic and today the Phillies second baseman said: “I feel pretty damn good right now.”
Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com notes that Utley said similar things upon arriving at spring training last year, only to miss the first 75 games of the season, but Utley explained that “all the hard work” he did during the offseason will make it different this time around:
Last year’s program didn’t work for me. It was disappointing. It was difficult to handle. But I wasn’t going to let it get me down. I knew I had lot of baseball left in me. I wasn’t willing to let this stop me. I’m just happy we put together a good program and now things are looking good.
This offseason, I trained to play baseball, not just take pressure off my knees. It’s worked. I have strength in my legs, and I can feel it taking ground balls and swinging the bat. There’s something there where the last couple of years there hasn’t been.
Hopefully he’s right, because even hobbled last season Utley was plenty productive offensively once he felt good enough to rejoin the lineup, hitting .256 with a .793 OPS in 83 games.
CSNPhilly.com has video of Utley talking to the media today.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Twins have picked up free agent left-hander Martín Pérez on a one-year contract. The deal is for $3.5 million, according to additional information from Jon Heyman of Fancred, and it looks like a club option is included for the 2020 season. The Twins have not officially confirmed the signing.
Pérez, 27, missed 85 days of the Rangers’ 2018 campaign after undergoing elbow surgery on his non-throwing arm. He sustained the injury partway through the 2017 offseason; as the story goes, he was charged by a bull at his ranch in Venezuela and fell on his right arm as he was trying to get out of the animal’s path. (He later killed and ate said bull.) When he finally returned to the mound, he cobbled together a 2-7 record in 15 starts with a 6.22 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 5.5 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR through 85 1/3 innings out of the rotation and bullpen.
As they approach the start of the 2019 season, the Twins will be looking for something a little more, well, bullish from Pérez. Prior to his injury, he turned in two solid seasons with the Rangers in 2016 and 2017, nearing the 200-inning threshold in both campaigns and providing a combined value of 4.2 fWAR at a time when Texas’ starters collectively ranked sixth-worst in the league.