He felt a burning sensation in his right ribcage taking swings in the batting cage before last night’s game at Marlins Park. He got scratched from the lineup a short time later, will not play in tonight’s series finale against the Marlins and will have a MRI exam tomorrow in Philadelphia.
It seems likely Utley will miss time with a trip to the disabled list a good possibility.
“It definitely scared me a little bit,” he said today. “My first swing I took in BP, I felt something. My second swing, I felt it again. My third swing, I felt it again. After the fourth swing, I realized something wasn’t right. That’s when I told Charlie (Manuel) I have some pain in my side. He told me to go see (head athletic trainer) Scott (Sheridan). He took me out of the game. I think it was a smart thing to do. You want to be careful with these things because they could linger and get worse if you try to play through it. I think we caught it early enough but it’s hard to know until we have some imaging on it.”
Utley said he felt about the same as yesterday, not great, but not terrible.
“It’s kind of in between,” he said.
Utley has spoken with teammates and former teammates who have had similar injuries in the past. Several Phillies pitchers have spent time on the DL in recent seasons because of strained obliques, but so have position players like catcher Carlos Ruiz and former outfielder Jayson Werth. Ruiz spent 23 days on the DL in 2009, while Werth spent 15 days.
“The main thing they said was, ‘Don’t rush back,’” he said. “That’s when you can make it worse and prolong the time you’re out.”
Utley has been one of the team’s few bright spots this season. He is hitting .272 with seven doubles, two triples, seven home runs and 25 RBIs in 44 games. He has an .814 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, which ranks seventh out of 20 qualifying second basemen in baseball. He has missed much of the previous two seasons because of chronically injured knees, but the knees have not been an issue so far.
“I just hit into a little bad luck,” he said. “I have felt pretty good. Hopefully this is just a small bump in the road.”
Roy Halladay reported to Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., two days ago to begin his rehab following right shoulder surgery. “He’s feeling like he’s got pretty good range of motion, which is a plus,” Amaro said. “I talked to him yesterday. He’s very positive.”
Mike Adams threw a bullpen session today. He will throw another one Friday in Clearwater, Fla., before pitching in a rehab game Monday with Class A Clearwater. He would be activated Tuesday at the earliest.
John Lannan is scheduled to throw May 29 to hitters in Clearwater. Amaro said “he is doing very well. He feels good.”
Chase Utley had to be scratched from tonight’s lineup because he felt discomfort on his right side during batting practice. The Phillies said Utley will be reevaluated tomorrow.
Freddy Galvis took his place at second base.
Utley has been one of the few bright spots for the team this season. He is hitting .272 with seven doubles, two triples, seven home runs and 25 RBIs in 44 games. He has an .814 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, which ranks sixth among 20 qualifying second basemen in baseball.
Utley has missed significant time each of the previous two seasons because of chronically injured knees, but he has said the knees have felt fine.
He tried his hand at gallows humor to discuss those concerns this afternoon at Marlins Park.
“I guess if I blow up, then I’d be worried about that then,” he said.
Howard received a cortisone injection in his knee Sunday in Philadelphia. A MRI exam yesterday revealed inflammation and changes in the meniscus, which essentially means he has tears in the cartilage. That would be a concern for anybody, but considering Howard is in just the second season of a five-year, $125 million contract and $85 million of that is owed following this season, Howard’s left leg problems carry a little more weight.
He said he does not know if the knee issue could require surgery following the season.
“I would guess that would obviously be worst-case scenario,” he said. “But I mean, right now I think it’s too early to tell.”
Ryan Howard received a cortisone injection into his left knee Sunday in Philadelphia, but he is back in the lineup tonight against the Marlins in Miami. A MRI exam Monday revealed inflammation and changes in his meniscus. The Phillies said yesterday they were hopeful Howard would respond positively to the shot, although they could not be certain it would.
The Phillies face Marlins rookie Jose Fernandez tonight. He has thrown 13 scoreless innings in two starts against the Phillies this season. Can the Phillies finally find a way to score against him tonight? If not, the sad sack Marlins will win just their second series of the season.
Here is tonight’s lineup:
- Jimmy Rollins, SS
- Chase Utley, 2B
- Michael Young, 3B
- Ryan Howard, 1B
- Delmon Young, RF
- Domonic Brown, LF
- Ben Revere, CF
- Erik Kratz, C
- Tyler Cloyd, P
He then had a cortisone injection in his left knee yesterday in Philadelphia because of inflammation and changes in his meniscus. He is unavailable to play tonight against the Marlins, but the Phillies said he is day-to-day. They are hopeful he can avoid a trip to the disabled list. They also hope this is not the beginning of a trend of leg injuries for the $125 million first baseman, who has $85 million remaining on his contract following this season.
“Injuries are a part of the game,” assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. “That comes with the territory when you sign these guys. We have a bunch of pitchers on long-term contracts, too. It’s just a risk you take. You never know what’s going to happen. Chase (Utley) signed a seven-year deal and we lost out.”
Howard had an MRI exam this morning in Philadelphia before joining the Phillies in Miami. Phillies head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan said Howard had symptoms in his knee for a couple weeks, but it was manageable. Recently, however, Howard told Sheridan the knee bothered him more.
Could the Achilles injury he suffered in Game 5 of the 2011 National League Division Series be related to the knee injury? It is common for pitchers to develop elbow issues because of shoulder and back issues. As a pitcher’s mechanics get out of whack, it causes stress on other parts of the body.
He is expected to be sidelined three to four weeks based on the size and location of the tear.
The Phillies selected catcher Humberto Quintero’s contract from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to take Ruiz’s place on the roster. The Phillies placed right-hander Mike Adams on the disabled list with a strained back to make room for Quintero. Right-hander Tyler Cloyd will take Ruiz’s spot on the roster tomorrow.
Ruiz injured the hamstring running the bases in the second inning Sunday in a 3-2 victory over the Reds at Citizens Bank Park. He had hit .235 (12-for-51) with two doubles and two RBIs in 16 games after missing the first 25 games of the season because of a suspension for using a banned stimulant, although he had hit .325 (10-for-31) in his previous 10 games.
Phillies catchers have a .582 on-base-plus-slugging percentage this season, which ranks 27th in baseball. They were counting on Ruiz to boost that position upon his contract, but he lasted less than a month.
“We were comfortable with the (catching) situation we had to start the season,” assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. “Q did a good job for us. I think we’re comfortable with what we have. We’re not going to stop looking, but I don’t think we’re actively out there pursuing anything. But you keep your eyes and ears open.”
The Phillies bullpen has allowed 46.3 percent (25 of 54) of its inherited runners to score, which is the worst mark in baseball. (The Mariners have been the stingiest at just 15.9 percent.) Upon further inspection, the Phillies’ mark is one of the worst in baseball in nearly 40 years. Going back to 1974, the 2013 Phillies’ bullpen has been the second-worst in baseball in allowing inherited runners to score.
- 1977 Reds: 48.1 percent (74 of 154)
- 2013 Phillies: 46.3 percent (25 of 54)
- 1974 Mets: 46.0 percent (63 of 137)
- 1992 Phillies: 44.8 percent (73 of 163)
- 1974 Expos: 44.2 percent (69 of 156)
The MLB average from 1974 through today is 33 percent. The best Phillies bullpen in that stretch? The 2011 bullpen, which allowed only 25 percent to score.
“I have a big concern about our bullpen,” Charlie Manuel said. “If we can’t hold people how can we win the game? You can say you’ve got to score runs to win, but at the same time how many runs do you have to score?”
Here is how individuals in the Phillies’ bullpen have fared:
- Justin De Fratus: 0 percent (0 of 4)
- Raul Valdes: 33 percent (1 of 3)
- Mike Adams: 40 percent (2 of 5)
- Jeremy Horst: 42.9 percent (9 of 21)
- Antonio Bastardo: 50 percent (1 of 2)
- Jonathan Papelbon: 50 percent (1 of 2)
- Chad Durbin: 60 percent (9 of 15)
- Phillippe Aumont: 100 percent (2 of 2)
“I think it’s a matter of pounding the zone, being the aggressor,” Durbin said about pitching better with runners on base. “I think we get 1-0 and 2-0 then you have to throw the ball over the plate and all the pressure is on us. So, the success I’ve had in the past with it has been getting ahead with an offspeed pitch or a well-located fastball to put the pressure on them and kind of let our defense get comfortable.”
He had something to say about it.
“You can get down if you’re not careful,” he said. “That’s what you don’t want. You’ve got to stay together. You’ve got to keep plugging at it. You’ve got to grind it out. Actually, that’s how you build heart and strength about your team. That’s how you become a team. A lot of times in the second half you notice we play a lot better baseball. And that’s because we stay together and we don’t give up and quit and things like that. Almost every team goes through periods where they’re down. If you’re not careful you will get depressed and you will forget about the main object and that’s winning and you give in and you quit. But if you’re good and you’ve got heart and you want to win and you want to try, just stay together. It’s not how many times you get knocked down – I think Vince Lombardi said it – it’s how many times you get back up. When you’re struggling that’s when you really stay together.”
It sounded like he was saying the Phillies are showing those tendencies, getting down, getting depressed, giving up.
“I’m not saying that we’re quitting,” he said. “Not at all. I’m not saying that. What I’m saying is we’re in that period right now where we start doubting ourselves instead of just keep firing. You stay aggressive and keep working on trying to find a good ball to hit and not try to overdo it. Just stay within yourself and do something. Just try to score one run. Do something. Just keep going. Never get down. Play 27 outs. A lot of times when you’re young and there’s not a lot of expectation for them they’ll keep playing and you’ll say, ‘Hey, they hustle. They battle. They keep playing.’ A lot of times when you’ve got a lot of experience and things get tough you kind of get in position because of how long you’ve played and how many years you’ve been in the game that you kind of look up and see the score and you say, ‘It’s going to be hard for us to win.’ That’s kind of a negative. Say we’re talking about hitting. You don’t give no at-bats away. I’m not going 0-for-4. If I’m 0-for-2 or 0-for-3 the last time I’m up I want 1-for-4 or 1-for-3. I don’t care what the score is. You stay together and you keep fighting. And that’s what you’ve got to do. But if you don’t well that’s kind of sending a message of what kind of player that you are. That’s how I look at it. Like I said, I played for 20 years. I’ve been on a lot of teams. Your character is revealed. They say the game builds character. I don’t know about building, but it’ll definitely reveal your character. Does that makes sense? And that’s kind of what you see. You’ve got to fight to really not go there. Once that you get there you’ve got to do some real hard searching to get back to where you should be and things. That’s what I believe.”
A couple facts:
- The Phillies have been shut out six times in 43 games. They were shut out six times last season.
- They have scored two or fewer runs in 17 games. Only the Marlins (26) and Nationals (20) have had more punchless nights.
- They have allowed 10 or more runs six times to lead the Majors.
- The bullpen has allowed a mind-blowing 25 of 52 (48 percent) base runners to score, easily the worst mark in baseball.
He hit a two-out triple to score Cliff Lee in the fifth inning to give the Phillies a three-run lead. He then turned a 10-pitch at-bat in the eighth inning into his third walk of the game, which sparked a two-run rally.
Young has walked 22 times this season, which is tied for seventh in the National League. His .399 on-base percentage is eighth.
Young walked just 33 times last season. He walked a career-high 58 times in 2005.
“I’ve made an effort to really make sure I lock into the strike zone,” Young said. “Right now the walks are up. Last year they were probably really low for me, too. I don’t think necessarily think last year was indicative of how much I’ve walked. I’ve never really walked a ton of times in my career, but the goal is still the same: get a good pitch to hit and hit it as hard as I possibly can. But at the same time, if there’s something outside the strike zone I don’t want to bite on it.”
Young, who has grounded into 10 double plays to tie for the league lead with Matt Holliday, has showed a little more power recently, too. He had just four extra-base hits in his first 95 at-bats through May 1, but has five in his last 41.
The Reds swept the Phillies in Cincinnati last month.
A few notes before the series opener:
- The Phillies finally optioned left-hander Raul Valdes to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He was 1-0 with a 7.65 ERA in 10 appearances. Right-hander B.J. Rosenberg takes his place. He was 1-3 with a 4.30 ERA in seven starts in Triple-A. I’m not sure why he got the nod over Lehigh Valley relievers like Joe Savery (3.00 ERA in 12 appearances), Mike Stutes (3.86 ERA in 17 appearances) and Cesar Jimenez (3.20 ERA in 10 appearances), but I’m guessing it’s because he has a power arm and gives the bullpen length. But Rosenberg has 24 strikeouts with 20 walks in 37 2/3 innings. But clearly something needed to be done to shake up the bullpen. The middle relievers have struggled tremendously. If you’re asking about Chad Durbin (7.30 ERA in 12 appearances), I think he gets a longer leash because of his contract (one-year, $1.1 million, plus a club option for 2014), plus the Phillies considered him a valuable asset in mentoring some of the younger arms in the bullpen.
- The Phillies called Roy Halladay‘s right shoulder successful, but he faces long odds to pitch successfully again.
- In case you missed it yesterday, Jimmy Rollins spoke openly and honestly about the reality facing the Phillies: They better get this thing turned around or the front office might blow it up.
- Reds left-hander Tony Cingrani is looking forward to facing Cliff Lee tonight. “He’s why I run off and on the field, because Cliff Lee did that when I was growing up,” he said. “I also like how he uses his fastball.” Cingrani is 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA in five starts. He has dominated left-handed hitters, who have just a .554 OPS against him. Chase Utley is hitting .158 with a .554 OPS against lefties this season. Ryan Howard is hitting .190 with a .590 OPS against them.
- The Phillies have hit .275 with a .331 on-base percentage and .395 slugging percentage in their last nine games, although they are averaging only 3.9 runs in those games. They were hitting .237 with a .296 on-base percentage and .374 slugging percentage in their first 32 games. It is far too early to say the Phillies are turning around their fortunes, but I guess it’s a step in the right direction. Still, they could use some power somewhere. Too many singles, not enough extra-base hits to score runs.