Posted on: August 15, 2010 7:41 pm

Utley may return Tuesday

Chase Utley I usually scoff when I hear athletes talk about being fast healers -- they all say it and the doctors are usually right. Chase Utley may be different.

The Phillies second baseman could be back as soon as Tuesday from his broken thumb -- 10 days before the original prognosis. Of course, this is a snail's pace compared to 2008 when he had offseason hip surgery and wasn't supposed to return until May, but instead was there opening day.

Utley, who may be related to Wolverine, has played the last two games with Class A Clearwater and is expected to play both ends of a doubleheader Monday before returning to Philly for the start of a series against the Giants.

In two games, Utley is 1 for 6, including a triple in Saturday's game.

"My thumb feels good," Utley told the Phialdelphia Inquirer' s Bob Putnam. "It's not bothering me at all. I don't what the plans will be after that. I'll have to discuss that with Charlie [Manuel] and [Ruben] Amaro and go from there."

Utley will fly back to Philadelphia after Monday's games, playing second in the first one and being used as a designated hitter in the second. He will then be evaluated by team doctors.

When Utley initially broke his thumb, the scheduled return date was Aug. 26. Utley had only been cleared to swing a bat on Wednesday.

"I'm not that surprised that I've been able to come back so quickly," Utley said. "I've just been pretty fortunate that everything has gone well with my thumb so far."

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.
Category: MLB
Posted on: August 13, 2010 9:40 pm
Edited on: August 13, 2010 9:43 pm

Dickey shines, Mets just miss another no-no

R.A. Dickey
The Mets, amazingly, have never thrown a no-hitter. Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey came oh-so-close to changing that Friday night.

Only a single by opposing starter Cole Hamels in the sixth inning saved the Phillies from being no-hit by Dickey at Citi Field, as the right-hander threw the game of his career in a 1-0 victory. He walked only one batter and needed 105 pitches to polish off the second complete game of his career and first since he converted to the knuckleball.

Analysis on brooksbaseball.com shows that Dickey threw 97 knucklers (averaging 76 mph) and eight fastballs, and 70 percent of his pitches went for strikes.

According to nonohitters.com, the Mets, who have been playing for 48 years, have come within one hit of a no-hitter 35 times (Tom Seaver alone did it five times) but still haven't managed to close the deal. The Mets and Padres (est. 1969) are the only teams without a no-hitter. The Rays got their first on July 26 from Matt Garza.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 13, 2010 10:29 am
Edited on: August 13, 2010 1:11 pm

As Dodgers' hopes fade, Broxton's job in danger

Jonathan Broxton Jonathan Broxton's struggles continued Thursday night, as a walk-off win by the Phillies pushed the Dodgers to nine games behind first place.

Broxton came in with a three-run lead after Ronald Belisario gave up four runs in the eighth to give the Phillies a fighting chance at what was then a 9-6 lead by L.A. Needless to say, Broxton blew the lead and handed Philadelphia a 10-9 victory.

Broxton hit Placido Polanco to lead off the ninth, then walked Mike Sweeney and Jayson Werth.

"[I'm] just a little wild right now," Broxton told MLB.com. "Every pitcher goes through it. Hopefully I'll get back to my normal self out there."

No kidding. After getting the season off to a start expected of the massive right-hander and walking just seven in 38 1/3 innings (not including intentional walks), Broxton is at an insane 11 in his last eight innings. His whiff rate has also tumbled from 12.9 to 5.6. Yes, eight innings isn't enough to draw conclusions on, but there's no question Broxton is in a massive funk -- and the funk began before these eight innings, stretching back to late June. After the game, manager Joe Torre refused to say Broxton would remain the closer outright.

"Let the smoke clear before you get me to say something I haven't thought about," Torre said of Broxton's implosion. "He's a big boy, he'll be all right. Long-term, I'm not worried about him." 

Potential replacements for Broxton include rookie fireballing sensation Kenley Jansen, who was a catcher just last season. Lefty Hong-Chih Kuo could also pick up some saves.

Even though Broxton created his predicament  with his wildness, he wasn't entirely to blame -- although he shouldered it all after the game, refusing to pin the loss on anyone else -- like Casey Blake.

With the bases juiced, Broxton then induced a grounder to third baseman Blake, who had just entered the game as a defensive replacement. The potential double-play ball went through his legs, scoring two runs and setting up Carlos Ruiz' walk-off double.

"One of those ... You don't call it do-or-die, but an in-between, and if you don't come up with it, it kind of makes you look like an idiot, and tonight I looked like an idiot," said Blake. "I've got to make that play, bottom line."

Ruiz then cranked a long double that bounced off the left-center field wall, sparking the histrionics.

"I always like that moment," said Ruiz. "I was going to the plate relaxed. I was thinking [manager] Charlie [Manuel] showed his confidence to get a big hit, because right there you have a bunt situation. So I said, 'You have to do something.' I definitely was looking for a good pitch to hit, and he threw me a slider right down the middle, and I made good contact."

While the Phillies were bouncing around enjoying the moment and ensuring they stay two games behind the Braves for the NL East Division lead, the Dodgers were solemnly walking off.

"That's a dagger," Blake said of the loss.

You bet it is, as L.A.'s current 2.2 percent chance to make the playoffs means you can stick a fork in the team.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.
Posted on: August 12, 2010 3:03 pm

Victorino returns to Phillies

Shane Victorino Shane Victorino has been activated off the disabled list for the Phillies, returning the club's starting center fielder to the roster.

Victorino was placed on the disabled list July 28 with an abdominal strain, but came through two rehab stints in Triple-A with flying colors. He will return to a .250/.311/.428 line in 441 plate appearances, pushing top prospect Domonic Brown to the bench.

There are rumblings that Brown was to be sent to Triple-A for Victorino's return to ensure playing time, but reliever Antonio Bastardo was shuffled off instead. Pinch-hitter and outfielder Ross Gload was injured in Wednesday night's game and remains day-to-day with a strained right groin, which likely impacted the decision to keep Brown in the majors.

Brown, 22, has a .237/.238/.368 line in 42 plate appearances, although he cranked his first home run on Wednesday.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.
Posted on: August 11, 2010 8:29 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:08 pm

Victorino homers in rehab game

Shane Victorino The Phillies got encouraging news earlier today with Chase Utley and even more good news later as Shane Victorino tripled and homered in his first two at-bats of a rehab assignment at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Victorino had a single in two at-bats in his first game Monday. Afterwards, he told the Bucks County Courier Times : "I'm not feeling it at all."

Apparently he's feeling it tonight against the Pawtucket Red Sox. He singled in the first and homered in the third off of Pawtucket lefty Kris Johnson. He is scheduled to play seven innings tonight.

Victorino has been on the disabled list since straining his left abdominal muscle on July 27.

He's scheduled to play nine innings Thursday for the Iron Pigs, but if he's ready now, why not call him up right away?

He'll be back soon enough, and when he is back with the Phillies, does the team send top prospect Domonic Brown back to the minors?

Brown went into Wednesday's game hitting .257/.237/.400 with a homer and 10 RBI in 10 games with the Phillies. He drove in the team's first run Wednesday night against the Dodgers.

With Victorino back, it's likely the Phillies would go back to their regular outfield with Raul Ibanez in left and Jayson Werth in right. For Brown to get in his at-bats, he'll have to go back to the minors until his September call-up.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: August 11, 2010 4:37 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2010 4:52 pm

Utley cleared to swing

Chase Utley Phillies second baseman Chase Utley has been cleared to start swinging a bat, MLB.com's Todd Zolecki tweets .

Utley was scheduled to see the doctor who performed the surgery on his right thumb today and apparently got good news.

Utley had surgery on July 1 and has already been throwing and running, with hitting being the last hurdle. IF he can start swinging, he could be back as soon as the end of the month, slightly ahead of the team's initial eight-week timetable.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.
Category: MLB
Posted on: August 9, 2010 10:58 am
Edited on: August 9, 2010 1:15 pm

Utley growing stronger on sidelines

Chase Utley If the Phillies are trying to find a silver lining in Chase Utley's injury that has knocked him out since late June, Utley knows exactly what it is.

"I've been able to lift a lot more, both legs and upper body," the second baseman told the Philadelphia News .

"I think it will help, just being a little bit stronger at this point of the year ... Last year I lost five pounds. In years before I've lost up to 10 pounds. So right now I'm about the same weight I was breaking spring training."

Most baseball players tend to lose five or more pounds over the course of the regular season, as weightlifting can be tough to fit into the regular season's schedule. It doesn't help that players burn calories during games either, which is why many players tend to slim down as the season goes on.

Durability is a key aspect of a player's skillset, and while many players are able to hold up over the grind, a fair amount see production slip off -- and Utley is no exception. Over his career in April, the All-Star hits .306/.398/.598 with a home run every 13.9 at-bats. In September, he slips to .267/.356/.469 with a homer every 20.5 at-bats. He also struggles in August as well, the famed dog days.

The only time Utley has drastically outperformed his September numbers came in 2007 when he was sidelined with a broken hand for a month, returning to the lineup in late August.

The Phillies have done everything they can to try to supplant Boston as the most snakebit team in the majors. While they haven't quite reached Boston's "talent" in this area, the fact that they have been able to withstand an onslaught of injuries to players such as Utley, Ryan Howard, Placido Polanco and Shane Victorino while remaining in the postseason hunt is impressive.

The Phils are just two games back of the Braves for the NL East Division and a half-game behind the Giants for the wild card. Adding a rested and powerful Utley just might make all the difference down the stretch.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 6, 2010 9:08 pm

Pedroia, Utley making strides

Baseball's two best second basemen are on the mend. Dustin Pedroia ran before the Red Sox game at Yankee Stadium and Chase Utley showed up at Citizen Bank Park before the Phillies' game against the Mets without a splint on his right hand.

Both teams made sure to temper any optimism about a quick return, though.

Pedroia ran sprints and manager Terry Francona told reporters his start isn't running naturally on his broken foot.

"I thought he made a lot of improvement, which is great," Francona said. "It's still healing. For him to accept that is very difficult. But I thought he had a good day. For him, a good day is not going to be until he is in the lineup."

That's still likely more than a week away.

Although Utley said he's not allowed to hit or throw until he sees a doctor next week, but has taken ground balls for the past few weeks.

Utley told reporters that he'd like to return by the end of this month -- which would be right at eight weeks, the initial prognosis.

"I'm extremely eager to get back," Utley said. "I've been going nuts on the bench."

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com