Mar 182011
Phillies 2B Chase Utley

Phillies 2B Chase Utley

By Justin Adkins:

Utley to see knee specialist

Chase Utley left camp Tuesday night to seek an evaluation from a third-party rehab specialist.  Phillies head trainer Scott Sheridan went with Utley, but general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. won’t disclose the specialist’s name or location, per the Zo Zone.

“We’re just trying to give him new techniques and new things to work on, so we can try to help him improve his comfort,” Amaro said.

So far, Utley’s gimpy knee has failed to respond to all efforts at treatment, including a cortisone shot, but the hope is to avoid the need for an operation.

“There’s no regressions,” Amaro said. “We’re just trying to do everything we possibly can to avoid any types of surgeries.”

While it would seem to make sense at this point to just go in and fix whatever is going on in there, that’s not something being considered right now.

“It’s not that cut and dried,” Amaro said. “There are a lot of risks any time you have surgery. And especially in this area with some of the things that are going on with his knee, there’s a risk it would cause more damage.”

If surgery ends up being the next step, Utley would be lucky to come back by mid-season.  In all likelihood he’d be down for the entire year.  With the Phillies limited payroll flexibility, it’s unlikely any worthwhile deal could be made as a stopgap.

The other option would be signing a veteran, such as the recently released Luis Castillo, formerly of the Mets.  That of course would be a horrible idea, though it sounds like Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel would consider it.

“I know one time he was real good,” Manuel said. “It’s possible he might be somebody we’d take a look at.”

Hopefully Chuckles was making a joke, because Castillo is terrible.  He has zero range and is a slap hitter at best.  Wilson Valdez is a much better option.  He may not be able to hit but he can play the hell out of second.  No one wants to see a repeat of this (wait for number 1, if you can still watch through the laugh-induced tears):

Besides Valdez, the Phillies have Josh Barfield (hitting .393 this spring), Pete Orr (.344), Michael Martinez (.310), and Delwyn Young (.304) still in camp, and all of them have the added bonus of not being Luis Castillo.

Luckily, assistant GM Scott Proefrock seems satisfied with what they have.

“I think we’re very comfortable,” said Proefrock.  “It’s a heck of a competition. They’ve all played very well. They all have characteristics I think could fit well, depending upon what circumstance we end up with.”

Hey Chase, get well soon.  Please.

Lidge throws bullpen

Brad Lidge threw a bullpen session this morning, tossing 35 pitches as he tries to work through his biceps tendonitis.

“I felt really good,” Lidge said, via the Zo Zone.

Lidge should throw another bullpen session Sunday and could be ready to go early next week.

“Getting out this little bit of tendonitis and getting back into it should be about the perfect recipe,” he said. “It feels a lot better now. I haven’t cranked it up to 100 percent yet. I threw somewhere between 80 and 90 percent. No discomfort.”

No pain or discomfort is a great sign, though the lower velocity he’s demonstrated so far this spring is still troubling.

“It’s coming,” he said. “My pop will never be there until the first game I’m closing during the regular season. It hasn’t been for however many years — five, six, seven years. I don’t expect myself to ever be close to where that is in Spring Training. It never has been. That being said, I should be able to get more on it than I’ve been getting on it the past couple outings. But if I don’t I still won’t be worried. As long as nothing is hurting me I’m going to be real happy. It’s really for me making sure that when I get out there I have good mechanics so I don’t re-aggravate the tendonitis. Assuming that goes as planned I’ll be more than ready on April 1.”

A healthy Lidge is the lynchpin of a bullpen that won’t rank that high on many lists.  Of course, with the Four Horsemen, the plan is for it not to matter.  But even those guys will generally need someone to come in and shut the door on most days, and a hard-throwing Lidge would be a nice option.

More cuts

The Phillies have again trimmed their roster, optioning  pitcher Vance Worley and infielder Freddy Galvis and assiging non-roster invitees infielder Jeff Larish, outfielder Brandon Moss, and pitchers Juan Perez, Dan Meyer, and Michael Stutes to minor league camp.

Stutes has had a nice spring, and Worley was once considered an option at fifth starter, but there really aren’t any surprises here.  All these players will benefit from more playing time in the minors, with the afore-mentioned arms likely seeing a call up this season once the inevitable injury bug hits the staff.  With the way it’s already hitting this team, that call could come sooner rather than later.

Phillies radio voice Scott Franske signs extension

Good news for Phillies fans who were worried that quality radio play-by-play man Scott Franske would leave town after his contract ran out after this season — he’s not going anywhere for a while.

The Phillies and Franske have agreed to a contract extension throught the 2016 season, per

Franske teams with former Phils reliever Larry Andersen on a radio broadcast that entertains and more importantly, doesn’t annoy.  That’s of course in complete contrast to the TV-team of Tom McCarthy and Chris Wheeler, who make listening to nails on a chalkbroad seem palatable, the inane yet amusing ramblings of Sarge notwithstanding.

 It was rumored for some time that Franske, 38, was going to possibly head to the Texas Rangers, with the Dallas-born Franske seemingly a likely candidate for their open spot up until the Rangers recently filled the job.  And now with a new contract, Franske won’t be going anywhere else.

Here’s hoping someone calls with an offer for Tom McCarthy the Phils can’t refuse.

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