Tag:Chase Utley
Posted on: May 16, 2011 10:26 am
Edited on: May 16, 2011 10:08 pm
 

Pepper: Red Sox sweep Yanks; Varitek on Posada



By Evan Brunell


WALK A MILE IN THESE SHOES: Jason Varitek has been the Red Sox's answer to Jorge Posada for over a decade and has already undergone his own transition from starting catcher to backup. While Posada remains in the lineup as DH, Varitek wonders if his transition was easier to undertake.

“Jorge’s really had to go from focusing and doing the things that you have to do behind the plate -- the constant reminders, this and that, the maintenance, what’s going on -- and now you’re almost like, ‘Well what do I do with my time?’ ” Varitek said.

'Tek says the fact that he still starts games or has to stay mentally engaged in case he is needed in the middle of the game has allowed his transition to be easier and forces him not to worry about his slow bat. While Varitek's bat is waking up, he's still at a poor .164/.258/.218 in 63 plate appearances. Posada doesn't have that luxury, as his lousy line is as starting DH. But the Red Sox captian isn't ready to anoint Posada's career dead in the water.

"[Saturday] he had one of the few hits against Buchholz, and Buchholz had his top notch stuff,” he said. “You go through the Xs and Os and you don’t look at the batting average.” (New York Times)

RETURN OF THE TEHERAN:
Looks like Julio Teheran will get another spot start Wednesday. The Braves only need a fifth starter Wednesday and May 31, so can go with a four-man rotation for the time being. Obviously, Atlanta would have preferred Brandon Beachy not get hurt, but he kind of had decent timing. Beachy will take about a month to return, so Minor could still grab a few starts in June. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution via Twitter)

PRICE MOTIVATED AGAINST YANKS:
The first-place Rays have yet to do battle against the Yankees, but that changes Monday as both teams begin a two-game set in Tampa. David Price will draw the ball to start and admits he is always just a bit more motivated against the Bronx Bombers. "That just happens," Price said. "Whenever you're pitching against the pinstripes, you have a little more. That's how it is, that's just from their success forever in baseball." (St. Petersburg Times)

ACTA PART OF Indians SUCCESS:
Manny Acta, by all appearances, has been everything the Indians want in a manager. He's driven closer community-player relations, encouraging players to take part in Twitter. (Dusty Baker, take note.) But he's also made an impact on the field by setting expecations in spring training of contending and using all his tools at his disposal to make decisions. That's put him in the early bid for manager of the year. (New York Times)

LA RUSSA STILL WAYS AWAY:
Tony La Russa remains away from the Cardinals with a bout of shingles, missing six games to date. La Russa is unclear when he can return to the team and will hold a meeting with GM John Mozeliak Monday to try to answer that very question. (FoxSportsMidwest.com)

INCHING CLOSER:
Chase Utley played in his first full minor-league game on Sunday and is getting ever-closer to returning to the majors. GM Ruben Amaro indicated that Utley needs to get more at-bats, but would not rule out a return during the upcoming week-long homestand starting Wednesday. Sounds a bit optimistic, but it looks like Utley will give fantasy owners a jolt by returning before the calendar flips to June. (Philadelphia News)

WALKING ON 3-1:
A few eyes widened Sunday when Daniel Murphy of the Mets walked on what was thought to be a 3-1 count -- except umpire Angel Hernandez had called Houston's Aneury Rodriguez for a balk prior to what ended up being the fourth ball.  "I don't know. I wasn't paying attention," Murphy said. "I heard, 'Balk.' And then, '3-1.' I guess that's what Angel said -- ['ball']. It went from 2-1 to 3-1. It was a four-ball walk." (ESPN New York)

STAY WITH US:
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen wants fans to know that the team will turn things around. “Hopefully, we go home and play better for our fans,’’ Guillen said. “They deserve that. We owe them one after that last homestand. Hopefully, we continue to play the way we’re playing now.’’ The White Sox are 6-3 in their last nine games, but are still a discouraging nine games out of first place. (Chicago Tribune)

ALVAREZ STAYING:
There are no plans to demote third baseman Pedro Alvarez to the minors, Pirates GM Neal Huntington revealed on the radio. "He's a slow starter," Huntington said. "We're seeing signs he's getting to where he needs to be. He's squaring up some balls. He's not getting himself out or getting into pitcher's counts." Alvarez is hitting .210/.277/.286 in 130 plate appearances. Even rebuilding teams give up on prospects with that stat line at this point. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

AYBAR RAKING: Erick Aybar is less patient at the plate, which is allowing him to go after good pitches more and has a .351 batting average to show for it. Sure, he's playing a bit over his head, but he seems to turned a corner offensively at age 27 and is looking like 2009 is the norm, not exception. Aybar struggled to a .255 batting average last season, which he says was in part due to being too patient at the plate. (Los Angeles Times)

GREAT ESCAPE: Those who play SplinterCell for X-Box will notice a move taken right out of the game. An Astros fan ran on the field and evaded security guards by leaping over the center field wall and scaling a berm in a way that would make Sam Fisher proud, then vaulting yet another wall and escaping... until Houston's forces caught up with him outside the park. (Youtube)

PEACOCK ON FIRE: No, not the animal. Nationals' right-handed prospect Brad Peacock has taken his game to another level and currently has a 2.13 ERA in six starts for Double-A. Credited for his success is his curveball, which is being thrown near fastball velocity which is causing hitters to miss the adjustment needed to hit a breaking ball. (MLB.com)

ATTENDANCE ISSUES: Yeah, the weather hasn't been great and it's hard to get excited about a perennial loser no matter the state of the rich farm, but the Royals have noticed their poor attendance this year. The play on the field is surprisingly strong so far, plus the constant influx of young players over the next couple of years should fix the issue. For now, though, K.C. has to worry a little bit about lack of fan turnout. (Kansas City Star)

HEYWARD RETURNING: Jason Heyward is hoping his return to the lineup will happen Tuesday. Sidelined with a sore shoulder, Heyward has reported progress and will be available to pinch-hit in Monday's game. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

SCOUT PASSES: Dick Wiencek, one of baseball's most successful scouts, passed away due to complications from a heart attack. Wiencek signed a record 72 players, including Bert Blyleven, Alan Trammell, Mark McGwire, Jim Kaat and Graig Nettles. Thoughts and condolences to friends and family. (MLB.com)

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Posted on: May 13, 2011 10:23 am
Edited on: May 13, 2011 4:38 pm
 

Oswalt struggles, lacks velocity in rehab outing

By Matt Snyder

Fans in Clearwater, Florida Thursday night were treated to seeing three major-league players in a Class-A game, as the rehabbing Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz and Roy Oswalt all took the field for the Threshers. While Utley homered and Ruiz proved he was ready to be taken off the disabled list -- which is expected to happen Friday in time for the Phillies' series against the Braves -- Oswalt struggled through his five innings. He gave up seven hits and three earned runs. He did strike out five, but, again, this was against Class-A hitters.

Oswalt, 33, reportedly had no "zip" on his fastball, as it hovered between 88 and 90 m.p.h. through most of the night (it usually averages around 93).

"It was a struggle in the first couple of innings," Ruiz said of Oswalt's fastball (Philly.com). Oswalt himself reportedly departed from the locker room quickly and didn't talk to reporters.

Oswalt was scheduled to pitch Tuesday for the Phillies, but it's possible the Phillies change course and give him at least one more rehab start to get things figured out. They do have some serviceable alternative options, including Vance Worley, who has a 1.20 ERA in 15 major-league innings so far this season.

UPDATE: Multiple Phillies outlets are reporting that Oswalt will throw a bullpen session Sunday and is still expected to start for Philadelphia Tuesday.

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Posted on: May 10, 2011 2:12 pm
 

Utley to begin rehab assignment Tuesday

By Matt Snyder

Barring a setback, Chase Utley will be with the Phillies before the month of May is over. That's because Utley will begin a minor-league rehab assignment Tuesday night for Class-A Clearwater (Philly.com ) and rehab assignments are limited to 20 days. The Phillies wouldn't send him on the rehab outing just for kicks, so they obviously believe he's within 20 days of being ready to join the big-league club.

That sentiment is likely with good reason, since Utley played a pair of extended spring training games (Saturday and Monday) and went 5-7 with two home runs on Saturday. Also worth noting, the Phillies didn't hold Utley and extra day after playing Monday, so he's playing in back-to-back games -- yet another good sign.

Utley, 32, is one of the best second basemen in baseball when healthy. He's received MVP votes in five different seasons and won the NL Silver Slugger at second base four times. In 2010, injuries limited him to 115 games, but he still hit .275 with 16 home runs, 65 RBI, 75 runs and an .832 OPS. Utley's replacement at second base this season has been Wilson Valdez, who is hitting .247 with a dismal .579 OPS (due to not taking walks and having no power).

Utley has been sidelined the entire 2011 season with patellar tendinitis, chondrolmalacia and bone inflammation in his right knee.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: May 5, 2011 10:00 pm
 

Utley headed to Phils' spring training complex

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Chase UtleyChase Utley will head to Florida on Friday to begin working out at the Phillies' spring-training complex and prepare for extended spring training games, CSNPhilly.com's Jim Sallsbury reports, citing sources.

Utley and the Phillies have kept mum about the status of the second baseman's knee and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. even deflected direct questions about Utley's status on Thursday.

Utley spoke on Wednesday, but didn't say much other than he was "getting closer."

Still, Utley has participated in two simulated games over the last few days and the News Journal's David Hale writes Utley took grounders at second on Thursday and looked like he was moving better.

If Utley is participating in extended spring games by Monday, it's possible he could be back in the Phillies lineup by the end of the month, something that will make the Phillies and their fans feel quite a bit better.

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Posted on: May 3, 2011 8:39 pm
 

Utley making progress

Chase UtleyBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Chase Utley's return to baseball may be coming soon.

After participating in two simulated games in the past three days, the Phillies are looking at sending Utley to extended spring training or a minor-league rehab assignment.

"It might be time to let him go somewhere, like Clearwater or something, and start getting into a broader, bigger routine," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel told reporters, including the New Journal's David Hale. "I think he's doing much better. he's getting there in how he responds after he does that kind of workout like he did the last couple of days. That's what counts. I definitely think he's closer than what he was a week or two weeks ago."

General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said if Utley feels good on Wednesday following Tuesday's workout -- which included base running, batting practice, field work and down time in the dugout -- he may send Utley to Florida.

"He seemed to do OK again today, and if he's feeling well tomorrow, we'll try to take the next step," Amaro said. 

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Posted on: May 1, 2011 5:54 pm
 

Utley plays simulated game, sees live pitching

By Matt Snyder

Injured Phillies second baseman Chase Utley took a big step forward Sunday afternoon. The All-Star has been out the entire 2011 season with patellar tendinitis, chondrolmalacia and bone inflammation in his right knee, but Sunday he took swings off live pitching.

Granted, it was only pitching coach Rich Dubee on the hill during a "quasi simulated game for three innings," (Matt Gelb via Twitter) but it's still work against live pitching. The Phillies haven't put a specific timetable on Utley's return, but have said they're hopeful he can make it back before the end of May.

They could definitely use his bat. They're in first place and are scoring runs at a decent pace, but Wilson Valdez is playing second. He's hitting .239 with a .565 OPS, making him one of the worst everyday hitters in baseball. To contrast, Utley has a career .894 OPS. Last season, in just 115 games, Utley hit .275 with an .832 OPS and 16 home runs, 65 RBI, 20 doubles, 75 runs and 13 steals. When completely healthy, he's a top five second baseman.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: April 21, 2011 12:33 am
 

Utley taking grounders, begins light running

By Evan Brunell

UtleyThose not in the know watching the Phillies' pregame routine Wednesday may not have seen anything strange with the person manning second field during practice.

But there was in fact, something strange: Chase Utley was taking grounders and moving around so smoothly one could easily forget he has yet to play a game this season.

“Every couple days I see something where he looks like he’s got a little more bounce to his step, and I’m able to extend him a little bit more each time,” first-base coach Sam Perlozzo said, who is also infield coach. “The number of reps he takes has increased each time. I can see steady improvement.”

But a timetable for Utley remains frustratingly unclear as patellar tendinitis is a tricky beast.

“The next step is just to continue doing what I’m doing and to hope that it responds well and so far it has,” Utley said according to the Delaware News Journal.

While the knee has improved, it is still sore and Utley has yet to cut loose, fearing a setback. He's starting to run and is gradually expanding his lateral movements -- but still hasn't latched on cleats, hasn't run long distances and is not diving or twisting on fielding drills.

Sound discouraging? Well, it is, and just goes to show that Utley still has a long way to go. As long as there's incremental progress, however, Utley will be satisfied.

“From Day 1 until now, it’s been a little bit of a progression, taking more, moving a little bit more,” Utley said. “But it’s still going to be a slow process unfortunately.”

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Category: MLB
Posted on: April 15, 2011 11:04 am
Edited on: April 15, 2011 12:08 pm
 

Pepper: Feeding Harpermania

By Evan Brunell

HARPERMANIA: Eye on Baseball's C. Trent Rosecrans took in a game between the Hagerstown Suns and Lexington Legends on Thursday. This is relevant because Bryce Harper was in the game. Rosecran's video below shows Harper taking batting practice as well as some great shots of him hitting during the game, in which he went 1 for 3 with a double.

BASEBALL TODAY: How big of a blow is the Joe Mauer loss to the Twins? What is the latest with replay and Major League Baseball? Danny Knobler joins Lauren Shehadi to discuss the latest in baseball:

I AM 42: Friday is Jackie Robinson Day, where everyone will wear No. 42 to celebrate the breaking of the color barrier so notably demonstrated by Jackie Robinson. MLB.com has a website honoring Robinson, with MLB players discussing the importance of Robinson to the game. (Iam42.com)

HELLO, OLD FRIEND: John Farrell returns to Boston Friday as his Blue Jays come to town for a four-game series. Farrell made a major impact on the Red Sox during his time as pitching coach and there are nothing but good things said by his former compatriots. Now in Toronto, Farrell has to adjust to managing despite having zero experience in that role. (Boston Globe)

THE REPLACEMENT: Farrell's replacement is Curt Young, who spent years shaping the Athletics staff. While Boston's own staff is off to a poor start, you won't hear skipper Terry Francona disparaging Young. Nope; Francona believes Young is a great fit, while Young himself is still trying to figure out how to get the most out of his pitchers. He's already fixed a few mechanical tweaks with Clay Buchholz and convinced Daisuke Matsuzaka to start a different regimen. (Boston Herald)

RUN, DODGER, RUN: Davey Lopes' impact as baserunning coach for the Dodgers is already remarkable as they are tied with the Padres for most steals in the NL and could double their total from last season. The success rate is also way up. While part of that is thanks to signing the speedy Tony Gwynn, Jr., Lopes has made a big impact on the team as a whole. (Los Angeles Times)

PAGING OSCAR GAMBLE: Coco Crisp broke out a new look Thursday, doing away with his braids and going with an Oscar Gamble-esque look. And really, there's no better team to break out the hairdo with than the Athletics, with their history of follicial accomplishments. (San Francisco Chronicle)

DOUBLE THE PLEASURE: Having two left-handers in the bullpen is something of a luxury for Angels manager Mike Scioscia, and he's enjoying the heck out of it, especially since Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi can fill several roles. (Los Angeles Times)

LONG-LASTING RELIEF: Guillermo Mota has been one of the hardest-worked relievers in the game since 1999, and he's still kicking as he's made the Giants the last two years off a minor-league deal. (San Francisco Chronicle)

HOLD ME BACK: Evan Longoria is so pleased with his rehab from a strained left oblique that he's relying on the trainers to keep him on a tight schedule instead of accelerating the process. The Rays plan to take it conservatively with Longoria so he is fully healed and can provide his bat all season. (Tampa Tribune)

UTLEY UPDATE: There's still no timetable for second baseman Chase Utley's return, but the Phillies hope he can get onto a field in May. He did some running Wednesday, but it's still anyone's guess how long Utley will be out with patellar tendinitis. Additionally, Ryan Howard deemed himself healthy after experiencing soreness when plunked on the right wrist Wednesday night by Washington's John Lannan. (Philadelphia News)

WATCH OUT! Yep, the third video in Pepper, this one showcases one of the grounds crew falling under a tarp being rolled out at the Royals game. Despite trying to warn his co-workers, he literally had the metal canister rolled over him:

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