Results tagged ‘ Chase Utley ’
Ryan Howard takes the heat, but Chase Utley is struggling worse than Howard through the Phillies’ first seven games. In fact, this is the worst start of Utley’s career through the team’s first seven games.
“It’s just a matter of time with Chase,” Ryne Sandberg said after yesterday’s 2-0 loss to the Mets. “I have no worries there. He gets quality at-bats. Chase will be fine. We just need to create some opportunities with men on base for those guys in the middle of the lineup.”
I’m not sure if Sandberg is saying Utley and Howard are struggling because the No. 1 and 2 hitters aren’t getting on base enough, but that should not affect Utley or Howard at the plate that much. Will Utley be better than he has been? Yes, although he has not homered since Aug. 10. It is the longest homerless drought of his career, stretching to 175 at-bats. But he posted a 1.297 OPS in Spring Training, so he was swinging the bat well recently.
Is he the only reason the Phillies are struggling offensively? Absolutely not. But he is a big reason why the team has scored just 16 runs in seven games.
Sandberg said he is not considering any significant changes to the lineup. I think that could come in time, but seven games into the season is not the time to bump Utley and Howard. I know nobody likes to hear this, but a big part of managing is managing people. You don’t take two long-time Phillies and in one day move them out of the spots they have been hitting their entire careers. They deserve a little more time. How much time? I’m not sure, but certainly more than seven games.
He played in his first Grapefruit League game today in a 2-1 victory over the Rays at Bright House Field. Utley has been slowly recovering from a sprained right ankle, which he suffered in January when he stepped on a baseball.
“It feels pretty good,” Utley said about the ankle. “Still making a little progress on it. It’s not perfect yet, but we’re moving in the right direction.”
Utley was a designated hitter for four innings, striking out swinging in the first inning and singling to right-center field in the fourth. Aaron Altherr pinch-ran for Utley, and Altherr scored on Ryan Howard’s two-run home run.
“It felt good to get out there in front of the crowd, get some at-bats off an opposing pitcher,” Utley said. “It was nice.”
“I thought Chase looked great,” Ryne Sandberg said. “I thought he laid off some pitches. His swing was good, with the base hit, and ran well.”
Of course, the next step is playing in the field. Sandberg and Utley offered no timetable for that.
“I think we have to talk about it,” Utley said. “I think there might be another DH in there, but yeah, I’d like to play the field soon.”
Ryne Sandberg said today that Utley could be the Phillies’ designated hitter against the Rays at Bright House Field. Utley has not played in a game this spring because of a sprained right ankle, which he injured in January when he stepped on a baseball. Utley’s ankle has made incremental progress over the past several weeks, and apparently he has made enough to step into the batter’s box and potentially run the bases.
Utley’s health is worth following. First, the Phillies desperately need his bat in the lineup. Second, he has a $15 million club option for next season that automatically vests with 500 plate appearances.
Chase Utley did not work out with his teammates today and he is not expected to play in at least the first week of Grapefruit League games because of a sprained right ankle, but he said there is no reason to be alarmed.
Utley rolled the ankle in January. It remains visibly swollen.
“I’m making a little progress,” he said. “Obviously I wish it was a little quicker, but I’m trying to be smart about it. It seems like it’s making some progressions every few days. I’d like to get out there as soon as possible.
“There’s no sense in overdoing it and screwing something else up, especially when we have a month until the season starts.”
Nobody could say when Utley might play in a game. Ryne Sandberg said yesterday they would work Utley into a game “down the road.” Ruben Amaro Jr. said Utley would not play “for a little while.”
Utley said he did not participate in today’s workout because a nearly two-hour mandatory domestic violence education program curtailed his daily routine to get his knees and ankle ready for the field. Utley missed most of Spring Training in 2011-12 because of his knees and he works daily to keep those issues at bay.
“There’s a process I go through to get on the field,” he said.
Of course, because of Utley’s health history anytime something happens to him in Spring Training folks wonder if something more might be afoot.
He said no.
“I understand, but my ankle, look at it,” Utley said. “It looks worse than it is. But it’s not like it’s (completely healthy). There’s no point balancing on it or jumping on it. If I start balancing on it and jumping on it, and this isn’t ready, then something else is going to take the brunt of it, and I want to avoid (that). So that’s where we’re at.”
Here are a few highlights from Wednesday’s nearly 30-minute press conference:
Cliff Lee. Lee finished last season on the disabled list with an injured left elbow, but his elbow is reportedly healthy. The Phillies and Lee hope so. The Phillies would like to trade him as they build for the future. “I know that he started his (throwing) program right around Dec. 1 like normal,” Sandberg said. “He had a little bit of a setback with I think a cold or upper respiratory (issue), but other than that everything’s been on schedule with Cliff. … He’s got no complaints and he’s pretty much where he usually is. So far, so good. We’ll keep an eye on him with his sides and his outings.”
Chase Utley. Utley had a solid first half in 2014 (.806 OPS through July 11), but slumped terribly in the second half (.661 OPS after July 11). Sandberg said he could give Utley more time off this season. “It’s important to have bench players that’ll be able to step in and give those guys possibly more of a rest than normal,” Sandberg said. “But that’s really up to the player and how he’s going. He had an All-Star first half of the season. Still a quality at-bat even if he made outs, still a quality at-bat. But, yeah, I see Chase getting some more days off this year.”
Maikel Franco. Franco is likely to open the season in Triple-A, but he will get a look at both third base and first base this spring. “He had an outstanding Winter Ball, so I’m anxious to see him,” Sandberg said.
Odubel Herrera.</> The Phillies selected the outfielder in the Rule 5 Draft. So far they like what they see. “He’s been impressive,” Sandberg said. “He’s a young guy that’s already opened up some eyes.”
Chad Billingsley. The Phillies hope Billingsley, who missed most of the past two seasons because of injuries, can be ready to join the rotation by late April. “I’ve seen him throw about three or four days ago,” Sandberg said. “He looked very good. He can give us a big boost in the starting pitching.”
Domonic Brown. Brown’s .634 OPS in 144 games last season ranked 139th out of 147 qualified hitters in baseball. His .640 OPS as an outfielder ranked 60th out of 64 outfielders, and his .641 OPS as a left fielder was the lowest of any left fielder since Chuck Knoblauch’s .582 OPS for Kansas City in ’02. “It’s a big year for Domonic Brown, to see if he’s one of the pieces of the puzzle going forward,” Sandberg said.
The demolition has begun.
Rollins is regarded as the greatest shortstop in franchise history, and he has the longest tenure of any professional athlete in the city. The Phillies selected him in the second round of the 1996 First-Year Player Draft. He made his big league debut in 2000, won the 2007 National League MVP Award, helped the Phillies win the 2008 World Series and set the franchise’s all-time hits record this season.
Rollins would be the first iconic player to fall in a potentially franchise-altering offseason. Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and others could be next in an extensive rebuilding project, although it is too early to tell. But multiple sources said Wednesday afternoon that the Phillies will trade Rollins to Los Angeles. The deal has not been finalized because a third team is involved in the trade, and money needs to be exchanged among them, which requires approval from the Commissioner’s Office.
“I know that there’s a lot of Jimmy Rollins stuff out there,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said in the team’s hotel suite at the Winter Meetings. “There’s nothing to announce, and as I’ve said before, we’re keeping our options open and our minds open on any way that we can improve our club long term.”
Chase Utley will have a shot at his first Gold Glove early next month.
He is one of three finalists for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award for National League second basemen. Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips and Colorado’s DJ LeMahieu are the other two finalists.
Utley committed 11 errors with a .985 fielding percentage this season. Phillips committed two with a .996 fielding percentage, while LeMahieu had six with a .991 fielding percentage. But Utley’s 8.2 ultimate zone rating ranked second to LeMahieu (10.7), according to FanGraphs.
Utley’s 10.4 defense rating also ranked second to LeMahieu (12.7).
He had several interesting things to say, including the fact he hopes to remain in Philadelphia, but he will not hold a grudge if he is traded. Hamels has said a player has a limited amount of prime years in his career, and he would rather spend them winning than losing. Hamels acknowledged the fact the Phillies appear to be a long way from winning again, which is why it sounded like he would not stand in their way if they want to trade him to a team on his limited no-trade list.
He also made a good point when somebody asked him about organizations like the Cardinals and their ability to retool year after year.
“They had Albert Pujols for a while and they got rid of him,” he said.
The Phillies have finally acknowledged they held on too long to the belief they could win with the 2008 World Series championship core, if they simply surrounded it with complimentary players. But will they take the next step? Will they move on from an iconic player or two, if the right situation presents itself in the offseason?
I understand the difficulty in doing that, but I do not believe an organization should grip tightly to its iconic players because it is worried about alienating its fan base. How many fewer fans would the Phillies have drawn this season, if they had traded somebody like Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard or Hamels before the season? The team drew 2,423,852 fans, a nearly 20 percent drop from last season and its lowest season total since its final year at Veterans Stadium in 2003, when they drew 2,259,948. Fans love their heroes, but they love winning more. Organizations, not just the Phillies, must stomach the short-term backlash of trading, releasing or not resigning an icon for the long-term benefit of winning.
I can relate to one example as a native Wisconsinite, which SI.com’s Peter King wrote about last month. Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson drafted Aaron Rodgers in the first round in his first draft as GM in 2005. Rodgers sat on the bench for three seasons, and after Packers icon Brett Favre lost the NFC championship game at home in the 2007 season, Thompson decided he needed to move on from the aging quarterback. Favre initially helped when he retired, but then he unretired and wanted his job back as the Packers’ starting quarterback.
But Thompson essentially told one of the most popular players in NFL history, “No, we’re moving on. We’re not giving you your job back. Good bye.”
Fans went crazy. They hated Thompson. Hated him.
But then a funny thing happened. Rodgers played well and led the Packers to the Super Bowl championship in 2010, while Favre got old and finally retired for good. You can’t find too many fans who still hate Thompson for the decision to move on from the iconic Favre. Because in the end, no matter how much fans love a player, they really love winning. Thompson believed he could no longer win with Favre, so moved on. He stuck to his beliefs, weathered the storm and was proven correct.
I am not advocating dumping players just for the sake of dumping them. They should always be moves that make sense from a baseball perspective. But organizations must not be afraid to move on from a popular player because of the possible marketing or ticket sales implications. If unpopular changes are made, but they lead to winning in the future, the fans will return. They always do, and they always forget why they were so mad at the team in the first place.
“Some guys want to stay on a losing team?” he said. “That’s mind-boggling to me.”
Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins are two long-time Phillies who have said in recent weeks they have no desire to leave Philadelphia. Both have 10-and-5 rights, so they can reject any trade at any time. Utley said nothing this morning at Miller Park when asked about Papelbon’s comments and if anything has changed for him. He shooed away the question with his hands.
Rollins said little more than that.
“Not until I say so,” he said, asked if anything has changed for him. “You don’t have to investigate.”
Ruben Amaro Jr. said he had no problems with Papelbon’s candid comments.
“Every single player on this team should want to play for a winning team,” he said. “Simple as that. … Don’t misconstrue his words. He never said he’s unhappy here. He never said anything like that. He never expressed to me that he’s been unhappy. Why wouldn’t players want to play on a contending team? It’s really rather simple.”
Cole Hamels walked past Amaro in the visitors’ dugout at that moment.
“He wants to play on a winning team,” Amaro said about Hamels. “Why wouldn’t he?”
Amaro said Papelbon has not requested a trade. He would not say if there is much interest in his closer, although he said, “I’m getting calls on people all the time.”
But Papelbon is 10th among 149 qualified relief pitchers in baseball with a 1.24 ERA. His 0.85 WHIP is 15th out of 203. He is 22 of 24 in save opportunities.
He could help a contending team in need of bullpen help.
“It’s not a problem,” Amaro said. “I don’t view it as a problem. I’ve never viewed him as a problem.”
Asked about Papelbon’s bewilderment that anybody would want to stay on a losing team, Rollins said, “Pap is entitled to say whatever he wants to say. And he will. As all of us will. Those who have enough courage to.”
But there has to be many more people in the Phillies’ clubhouse that feel that way. They just don’t want to say it publicly.
“I can’t necessarily agree with that,” Rollins said.
Amaro said the Phillies are open-minded about a lot of things as the Trade Deadline approaches. It could mean eating some of Papelbon’s contract. He is owed about $19.5 million through next season, plus a potential $13 million more in 2016 if an option automatically vests based on games finished.
“Something is probably going to happen,” Rollins said. “No one knows who, what or when obviously. Something is likely going to happen.”
But Rollins figures to be here August 1.
“Probably,” he said.
Chase Utley hit a two-run, walkoff home run in the 14th inning last night to beat the Marlins.
It had been a long time coming, in more ways than one.
He entered the night hitting .225 with one double, one home run, seven RBIs and a .568 OPS in 92 plate appearances since June 2, so he was due for a big hit, if not a big hit at a big moment.
“I’m trying to build some comfort at the plate,” he said. “You go through some funks and you try to battle through them.”
It was Utley’s sixth walk-off hit of his career, but his first since Aug. 30, 2007, when he singled against Mets closer Billy Wagner to score Tadahito Iguchi in a memorable 11-10 victory in a memorable run to the postseason. It was the third walk-off homer of Utley’s career, his first since Sept. 4, 2006, against Houston’s Dave Borkowski.
Utley fouled off a first-pitch fastball from Marlins right-hander Chris Hatcher, but swung and missed badly at an 0-1 fastball.
He recovered nicely, sending the third pitch into the seats.
“It was good to see him regroup, get a pitch he can really handle,” Ryne Sandberg said. “He’s a grinder. Three RBIs on the game, scrapped out a hit and a big shot at the end. Right man at the right spot.”