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Utley Will Start at 2B for Intrasquad, Spring Opener

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Wed, February 20, 2013 05:40 PM | Comments: 9
2013 Spring Training, News

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Utley will play in the Spring for the first time in three seasons. Photo: AP

For the first time in three years, Chase Utley will play second base for the Phillies in their five inning intrasquad scrimmage on Friday and their Spring Opener on Saturday as first reported by Ryan Lawrence. According to Lawrence, Utley will start at second in both games and will rest Sunday. As normal with Spring Training, veterans often do not play every inning.

Lawrence pulled a particularly interesting quote from Charlie Manuel:

I think (Utley) really put a lot of hard time in last year. He went to Arizona. And I think after the season was over, with the way he’s swinging right now and the way he looks, you could tell he’s definitely willing to pay the price to get back to where he was. I think Utley wants to play quite a few more years. And that’s good.

With Utley having built in rest, and Pete Orr leaving to play with Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic at some point, Cesar Hernandez may have his first true extended Spring Training audition as a member of the 40-man roster.

Avatar of Ian Riccaboni

About Ian Riccaboni

Ian Riccaboni has written 818 articles on Phillies Nation.

Ian's athletic achievements include getting stuffed by NBA center Aaron Gray in high school and hitting .179 over four years for NYU against D-III, NAIA, JuCo, and NCBA schools. Ian hopes his athletic successes will help him achieve his dream of becoming the underground Bob Uecker.

 
 
  • Posts: 542 Bruce

    Avatar of Bruce

    That’s encouraging news that Utley is rarin’ to go . If the Phillies are to have a successful season in contending for the division, they will need both Utley and Howard to be healthy for a full season. After the Eagles and now the Sixers and Flyers having a sorry, pathetic season as the door mats of their division, we need the Phillies to bring some cheers this year.

     
  • Posts: 0 phil

    Utley will be a 7+ WAR player and an MVP candidate. I will eat my words if I’m wrong. This will be his year that make people realize why he is a hall of famer

     
    • Posts: 3 Chris

      Avatar of Chris

      This is good news but to think that Utley is going to be able to play 150 plus games AND maintain production at his age is wishful thinking. Someone is going to have take 2nd base for 25-30 games and produce.

      Here’s a link to a story I wrote about Micheal Young:

      http://voices.yahoo.com/can-michael-young-still-36-12019523.html?cat=37

       
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        Chris, in reading your article, it seems that only Hall of Fame caliber third basemen did well at age 36. Those who might be more comparable to Young struggled much more.

        Of course, since he’s only played 353 games at third in his career, maybe third basemen aren’t the right group to compare him to anyway.

         
      • Posts: 0 wbramh

        I’m far from a Michael Young aficionado so please excuse my innocence, but I have a couple of questions for those of you more in the know.

        I get that he’s 36-years-old and coming off a one or two struggling years.

        But…

        First, while Young’s numbers have plummeted he still batted .277, which is some 22 points higher (correct me if I’m wrong) than the highest starter’s batting average on last year’s team.

        Second, as Schmenkman pointed out, Young is not a natural 3rd baseman and the Phillies are not asking him to be their 3rd baseman of the future, just to hold the fort. Like all-around quality catchers, exceptional 3rd baseman are rare, even among those who play it as their natural position. After Yukalis, Young was arguably the best choice among available talent. Either you play Young or give the Asche kid a chance to win the position this year rather than next year. I’m not sure there was a third choice.

        (IMHO, this front office prefers holding back their future hopefuls until they’re 26-year-old rookies and 1/3rd to halfway through their careers. But maybe I’m spoiled, having watched too many stars like Mantle, Mays and Ashburn, tear up the league by age 22. As occurs in academia and elsewhere, potential talent often rises to the level of the talent they’re playing against. The Yankees gave Mantle a taste of the bigs and a chance to stink (big), but they never lost faith. They didn’t leave him languishing on the farm for another two seasons before throwing him in as the player to be named later in a trade for for some .180-hitting utility catcher or 6th-slot starting pitcher. I fear that will be the ultimate fate of a current going-on-26 outfield prospect.

        But enough with that tangential rant and back to Michael Young…

        Third, Michael Young has a reputation for being a major plus presence in the clubhouse (Ben Revere, too) and it seems to me the team is desperate for an attitude change. Last year, tempers were short, injuries were frustrating, players were dogging it on the field (or just losing concentration) and Charlie developed a siege mentality which is carrying over to this season. His every move is now under a microscope while he’s simultaneously staring over his shoulder at the rising Sandberg – and with good cause on both counts.

        1993 showed us how an under-talented squad can overachieve with the right mix of personalities and work ethic on the team. This off-season did not likely raise the innate talent level on this club, or at least not as much as it improved the two teams that finished ahead of them in the division last year, but If an ungracefully aging but positive, hard-playing 3rd baseman and a singles-hitting spark in center can transform this team’s spirit, that may be as valuable a commodity as one or two of the high-proced free agents they passed on this year.

        I’m far from a polyanna concerning the Phillies’ chances for reaching the play-offs. In fact, I’ve been a voice of pessimism about this team’s general direction and have scratched my head more than once as Charlie has managed like the anti-Bochy and Ruben has stocked up on mediocre retreads while leaving the farm system a barren wasteland. Yet with all of my admitted negativity I can’t easily dismiss Michael Young’s potential for contributing in a big way to this team – if only in the knowledge that someone on the field is playing with pride and guts even if that’s all he may have left in the tank. For me, that’s worth the price of a ticket over a exorbitantly-salaried guy at the opposite corner sporting a .302 wOBA against lefties and a rank of 2nd worst defensive players at his position in all of MLB.

        Then again, I grew up watching the Phillies of the 50s. As terrible as their seasons (mostly) were, they always led the league in brawls.. It gave fans the sense that they stunk, but cared about stinking. I suppose that’s all that I’d ask of them this year.

        If I’m wrong (not a rarity), please set me straight.

         
      • Posts: 0 hk

        wbramh,

        Since OBP and OPS correlate much higher to run scoring than BA does, it is important to look beyond Young’s empty .277 batting average from last year and note that he rarely walked and his power fell off significantly to the extent that his OBP was .312 and his OPS was .682. Mike Fontenot, was better than Young in both OBP and OPS last year in the small sample size of 105 PA’s and all that got Fontenot for his efforts was a pink slip. When you factor in (a) Young’s age, (b) that he played in a home park that is a much better hitter’s park for RH batters, (c) that he’s no longer a good base runner, (d) that Young at 3B may be a worse defender than Howard is at 1B and (e) that the Phils traded one of their top 15 prospects to get him and you can at least see the cause for concern about the acquisition.

        As far as Young being “good in the room” is concerned, I can’t comment on that because I’ve obviously never been in the room. I do know that his “team-first guy” reputation took a couple of hits over the latter part of his career when he fought his management’s decisions to change his position.

         
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        wbramh, some reactions:

        “First, while Young’s numbers have plummeted he still batted .277, which is some 22 points higher (correct me if I’m wrong) than the highest starter’s batting average on last year’s team.”

        You’re forgetting Ruiz, but in any case of course batting average doesn’t tell the whole story. Of the 13 Phillies who had 200+ plate appearances last year, 11 of them were better hitters than Young, in terms of something more comprehensive like wRC+ or wOBA or OPS. Young was truly awful in 2012 and quite literally one of the worst players in all of baseball. Any hope for 2013 relies on him rebounding to some semblance of his 2011 self. I think some bounce back is to be expected, but I for one am not expecting anything close to 2011.

        “I’m not sure there was a third choice.”

        I would have preferred if they stuck with Frandsen at 3rd, and use that $7+ million either in the outfield or starting pitching. Frandsen will most likely not hit .330+ again, but I don’t think the improvement that Young is that significant, and $7 M could have offered more improvement elsewhere.

        “Third, Michael Young has a reputation for being a major plus presence in the clubhouse (Ben Revere, too) and it seems to me the team is desperate for an attitude change.”

        This is often overstated for him, I think. He was not happy there and griped with the GM.

         
      • Posts: 0 wbramh

        Thanks you both, HK and Schmenkman.

        Your responses make make ample sense. Being a bit on the ancient side I probably tend to to put too much value on batting average and not on other metrics. Still, the team batting average sure seems anemic. Where did they rank last season in MLB?

        And Schmenkman, you make an excellent point suggesting Frandsen was the far better choice at 3rd and that the millions spent on Young would have been better spent on an outfield upgrade. During the Yukikis/Young noise I managed to forgot all about Frandsen. Apparently, someone in the front office forgot about him, too – and foolishly.

        I would only disagree with you both (a bit) on the subject of Young’s disagreements with management in Texas. I think his issues with management need be separated from his interaction with teammates – unless of course he allowed his displeasure with being shoveled around to contribute to his performance drop-off. In that case I’d agree with you both again, but I’ve never rumors of problems between Young and other players on the team. But who knows – a couple of bad years from natural causes coupled with management woes may have exacerbated his problems down there.

         
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        Their BA was 7th out of 16 in the NL.

         
 
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