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Archive for June, 2012

New Lineup, Same Old Bullpen

Posted by Ryan Dinger, Wed, June 27, 2012 10:38 PM Comments: 38

Chase Utley with shades of Joe Dimaggio in 1949, homering in his first at-bat of the season following an injury. (AP)

Not even the return of Chase Utley could save the Phillies tonight, as the team fell to the Pirates 11-7 behind a hapless effort from the bullpen–a unit which has been the Achilles heel all season.

CHASE RETURNS IN STYLE

-Two out, nobody on, 2-2 count. Chase Utley stands in the box for his first at-bat of the 2012 season. Moments before, he came to the plate to a loud ovation. James McDonald stares in for the sign. The battery mates agree on a curve ball. McDonald unleashes the hook, and it loops towards the plate. Off his shoulder, Utley’s bat moves effortlessly through the zone with the swiftness of a mongoose. Like a pendulum on its upswing, the barrel of the bat strikes the quickly dropping curve, launching it deep into the Philadelphia night. The ball would land on the other side of the right field fence, and the crowd would erupt in exultation.  In one fell swoop, Utley had announced his return to the Phillies lineup. Screen writers dream of  plots with this much electricity.

- Utley finished up the night going 3-for-5. His three hits included the homer and an infield single. He also put a two good charges into balls, lining both deep to center for outs. These were all encouraging signs. Utley showed power and speed, which suggests his legs feel just fine. At least for now.

Continue reading New Lineup, Same Old Bullpen

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Howard Rehab Officially Begins Thursday in Lakewood

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, June 27, 2012 10:32 PM Comments: 1

First Chase Utley, now Ryan Howard.

Howard will officially begin his rehab assignment with Class-A Lakewood on Thursday afternoon. On Tuesday, Charlie Manuel said he had spoken to Howard, who was still running with a bit of a limp. Functional testing was done today and Howard was deemed ready for action.

I caught Howard in action working with trainer Scott Sheridan on the field earlier this afternoon and he ran well, but looked winded after some sprints and shuttle runs. He appeared to have no trouble moving laterally as Sheridan ordered him to go from cone to cone during the drills.

With this rehab assignment, Howard has a maximum of 20 days. If there is a setback, that clock can be stopped. If all goes well, he would be eligible to come back to the Phillies on July 18, perhaps even earlier if things progress more rapidly.

Howard is still gaining strength in his lower half after going through a second surgery to clean out an infection around his achillies incision. For several months he was unable to use his legs, so it will take some time for him to get his sea legs.

For BlueClaws ticket information, call 732-901-7000 or visit BlueClaws.com.

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Gameday: Phillies (36-40) vs. Pirates (38-35)

Posted by Ryan Dinger, Wed, June 27, 2012 06:05 PM Comments: 41

Pittsburgh Pirates (38-35) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (36-40)

James McDonald (6-3, 2.19) vs. Raul Valdes (2-0, 1.84)

TIME: 7:05, Citizens Bank Park
TV:
CSN
Weather: 80, mostly sunny
Media: Twitter and Facebook

All over the Delaware Valley today, female Phillies fans find themselves feeling more randy than usual. No, Ryan Gosling isn’t in town filming the movie adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey. The reason for the uptick in amorous vibes from the female fan base is a different kind of aphrodisiac: Chase Utley in a Phillies uniform.

It’s been 279 dark and dreary days since Utley last played meaningful baseball. Tonight, like a knight in shining armor ready to pull the Phillies organization and its fans from the depths of despair to the tune of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” he makes his return. While the mere presence of Utley won’t do much in terms of helping the team turn its season around, he certainly provides hope–something this team has desperately been in search of for quite some time now. He provides a patient hitter who can work a count and hit the ball out of the ballpark.

At his best, he’s a game changer. At his worst, he’s better than any other option the Phils have at second base. It’ll be fascinating to see the reception he receives tonight and the start he gets off to.

On the defensive side of things, the Phillies are without a traditional starting pitcher. That means one thing: Bullpen game. Is there any phrase more frightening to Phillies fans after watching this ‘pen over the last three months? Probably not. Raul Valdes will be the first man out of the bullpen door, and is expected to go three or four innings. From there, it will be a mix and match job by Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee. With the bats likely needing to mash their way to a victory, Utley couldn’t have picked a better time to make his triumphant return.

Lineup: Rollins SS, Pierre LF, Utley 2B, Ruiz C, Pence RF, Victorino CF, Wigginton 1B, Fontenot 2B, Valdes P

Whirlwind WitbierYour Gameday Beer– Shiner Ruby Redbird

Summer is in full-swing, and I’m going to keep the summer seasonal recommendations coming. I’ve recently discovered the Shiner Ruby Redbird, and found it quite tasty. The dominant flavors in this brew are ginger and citrus, which comes from the fact that it’s brewed with Ruby Red grapefruit juice (though it combines with the ginger for more of an orange citrus taste). Like most summer seasonals, it’s remarkably light. I’m not sure what type of beer Chase Utley drinks, but I think he’d approve of this one.  - By RD

GO PHILLIES!

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Domonic Brown to DL with Knee Sprain

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, June 27, 2012 03:27 PM Comments: 2

Brown goes to the DL (PHOTO: LehighValleylive.com)

UPDATE, 5:00 pm – Scott Proefrock gave an update on the status of Domonic Brown prior to the game, saying he’ll likely be back in game action in 2-3 weeks.

—————-

Domonic Brown‘s season started off rough, took a turn for the better, and now has gone in the opposite direction again.

According to Michael LoRe of the Allentown Morning Call, Brown hits the DL with a right knee sprain, and injury he’s dealt with for quite some time. Brown is hitting .266 this season, but hasn’t been in the lineup since June 14 with the knee injury. Before getting injured, he had been on a tea, hitting .296 with three homers and a .945 OPS in the previous 10 games.

More coming…

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Utley Activated From DL; Martinez to Lehigh Valley

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, June 27, 2012 02:31 PM Comments: 18

Utley is back tonight. (AP)

UPDATE 3:10 pm: Utley is in the lineup batting third. Like old times.

Phillies lineup vs. PIT: Rollins, Pierre, Utley, Ruiz, Pence, Victorino, Wigginton, Fontenot (3B), Valdes.

——————-

Chase Utley is finally returning to the Phillies.

Tonight at 7:05, Utley will man his familiar position at second base, bat in his familiar position in the lineup (third), and hear that familiar roar when his name is called as he steps to the plate.

And in true Utley fashion, he’ll take it all in stride.

For Phillies fans, it has become a holiday of sorts. People gearing up to buy tickets, taking the trek to Lehigh Valley for his rehab appearance on Tuesday night – Utleymania will reach it’s fever pitch when he settles into the box in the bottom of the first.

Maybe he won’t be the same guy we’ve witnessed in the past, and maybe he won’t be the savior for this rather dreadful season. But what you can count on is an upgrade at second base, where the Phillies have posted some subpar numbers. Even with Freddy Galvis providing more than anyone could have imagined, the Phillies rank 12th out of 16 NL teams in average, 13th in OPS, and last in runs scored. Phillies second basemen have drawn just 10 walks. Utley will likely change all of that.

Many have asked me what we should expect from Utley upon his return. At first, it’s unlikely he’ll play everyday, although I foresee that changing quickly once he feels comfortable. At the plate, a .275 average with 10-12 home runs over the second half of the season is fair. Anything above that from Utley would be gravy.  It’s improbable that he’ll be a 30-homer, .330-average threat.

So temper expectations and in the early going, give him a reprieve if things don’t start smoothly. Utley is still finding himself at the plate and getting his timing down against major league pitching could take some time. Don’t assess him fully on 10 or 15 at-bats; it could take him a month to get his baseball legs going again.

Michael Martinez was sent down to Lehigh Valley as the corresponding move.

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The Impact of Chase Utley

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Wed, June 27, 2012 08:18 AM Comments: 28

Chase Utley, #21, went 2-5 with a HR in his rehab appearance for LV yesterday. Photo by Ian Riccaboni

I arrived yesterday at Coca Cola Park well before game time. I introduced myself to Jeff Skversky of Channel 6 ABC and Comcast SportsNet’s Leslie Gudel. Their news trucks were piled up at the front gate near the ever-growing piles of fans. I’ve been to IronPigs games since the beginning and saw Raul Ibanez, Pedro Martinez, and Brad Lidge rehab here. This was much different.

While some fans were at the park early for the John Mayberry Jr. bobblehead giveaway, about 20 were lining the right field fence. No, not the colorful, filled-with-ads fence located at the back of the park but rather the large, black fence that establishes the boundaries of the park. They were trying to get a glimpse of Chase Utley. Continue reading The Impact of Chase Utley

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Utley and Howard Near Return

Posted by Jay Floyd, Wed, June 27, 2012 06:30 AM Comments: 0

Second baseman Chase Utley is set to return for the Phillies after competing in a rehab outing with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs on Tuesday night. In the club’s 10-2 win over Rochester, the five-time All-Star slapped a single and slammed a home run while striking out twice in five at bats.

Utley has been out of action until recently with chondromalacia in his left knee.

Prior to playing for Lehigh Valley, Utley posted a .159 batting average with one homer and five RBI in nine games with Class A Advanced Clearwater.

Continue reading Utley and Howard Near Return

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Chooch’s Tear Continues, Helps Phillies Beat Bucs

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, June 26, 2012 10:08 PM Comments: 13

Wiggy and Chooch teamed up for some good old times. (AP)

CHOOOOOOOOOOCH

-Carlos Ruiz cannot be stopped. The man is a machine. With three hits – one of which was a bomb that nearly tagged the Geico sign that sits on the second deck perch in left field – Chooch raised his average to a busty .361 on the season and pushed his OPS above 1.000.  Just an incredible season for a true MVP candidate in the National League.

-The Phillies got to Erik Bedard early, but weren’t really able to open it up completely. Ty Wigginton‘s two-run shot in the third put the Phillies up 4-1, and while they put up – runs on the night, early it felt like they could have struck for some more. Still, – runs on – hits is nothing to cry about.

INTERESTING NIGHT FOR WORLEY

-Through the first few batters, I wondered if there was something wrong with Vance Worley. He was not even reaching 90 on the gun and appeared to be high in the zone. Worley eventually settled down and put together a decent performance, however, it wasn’t his best. The righty went six-plus innings, allowing six hits, three earned runs, two walks, and five strikeouts. It took him 112 pitches (65 strikes) to get there.

-The great thing about Worley is that when he runs into some trouble, he normally finds his way out of it. The good ones do. Worley was able to minimize damage tonight.  In five starts since returning from the DL with elbow soreness, Worley has a 2.70 ERA. He has said time and again the elbow is not giving him trouble and you have to believe him.

Continue reading Chooch’s Tear Continues, Helps Phillies Beat Bucs

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Howard Could Start Rehab Assignment Thursday

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, June 26, 2012 07:34 PM Comments: 1

The big man might be back soon.

In a press release from Ruben Amaro and the Phillies:

First baseman Ryan Howard (left Achilles surgery) will return to Philadelphia tomorrow for functional testing on his left Achilles.  If he passes testing, he will begin a rehabilitation assignment with single-A Lakewood on Thursday, June 28.

The Phillies are just trying to outdo themselves right now. First, the news that Chase Utley is likely to return to the Phillies lineup on Wednesday night and now the announcement that Ryan Howard could be in line to take the field with his mates just after the all-star break has to make you breathe a little bit easier. I know, I know – they can’t pitch. But this has to provide a jolt to the fans and players included.

Pieces are starting to fall into place and that’s all you can ask for right now. If the Phillies can stay afloat, perhaps Utley and Howard can provide a boost.

If he does indeed start the rehab assignment on Thursday in Lakewood, he’ll have 20 days maximum to complete it, meaning he would line up to return to the Phillies on July 18. It’s possible he does return before that, however, if he does it would be on a post-all-star game road trip through Colorado and Los Angeles. The Phillies would return home on July 20 against San Francisco.

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Gameday: Pirates (38-34) vs. Phillies (35-40)

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, June 26, 2012 07:04 PM Comments: 25

Pittsburgh Pirates (38-34) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (35-40)

Erik Bedard (4-7, 4.13) vs. Vance Worley (3-4, 2.78)

TIME: 7:05, Citizens Bank Park
TV:
CSN
Weather: 71, partly cloudy
Media: Twitter and Facebook

Ryan Howard news and fireworks at CBP on the same night! Ryan Howard could start a rehab assignment Thursday if all goes well with his doctors appointment tomorrow. If he does star the rehab, he’d have 20 days max to complete it. So, the Phillies could be getting healthy again sometime after the all star break.

Chase Utley is in Lehigh Valley tonight, we’ll obviously be keeping an eye on that all night. Tomorrow could be the day that Utley makes his triumphant return to the Phillies lineup.

As for tonight, it all comes down to giving Vance Worley some run support. He hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs since early May. The Phillies seem to struggle with lefties and Erik Bedard gets the call tonight for the Pirates.

Lineup: Rollins SS, Polanco 3B, Pence RF, Ruiz C, Victorino CF, Wigginton 1B, Mayberry LF, Fontenot 2B, Worley P

Whirlwind WitbierYour Gameday Beer– Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest

It always excites  me when I find a new beer from Sierra Nevada. They make a darn good brew and if you’re in the Philly area, check this one out at Grey Lodge in the NE. They have it now. They hand pick fresh hops in the southern hemisphere just for this beer. And anything Sierra Nevada is a friend of mine.  -Pat Gallen

GO PHILLIES!

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