Chase Utley: “I feel pretty damn good right now”

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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.

Brayan Peña announces retirement

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Catcher Brayan Peña announced his retirement on Monday evening via his Twitter account:

Peña, 36, signed a minor league contract with the Tigers in January but the club ended up going with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia for their Triple-A roster.

Peña spent parts of 12 seasons in the majors with the Braves, Royals, Tigers, Reds, and Cardinals from 2005-16. He hit .259/.299/.351 in 1,950 plate appearances.

With his playing days behind him, Peña will transition into coaching. He will manage one of the Tigers’ Gulf Coast League teams, George Sipple of the Free Press reports.