Looks pretty damn good in the blue half-zip Adidas pullover, too.
Chase Utley met with the assembled media in Clearwater. I don’t put a whole lot of stock into much of anything Chase says… but what he said today was mostly encouraging.
“I feel pretty damn good right now.”
“I sent Charlie a text message [in Decemeber] and I told him if he behaves himself, maybe Santa will bring him a healthy second baseman… wanted to let him know things are going well on my end and wanted to wish him a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”
“Changing position at 34 is probably not the ideal thing to do. So I’m going to stay at second and go from there.”
“Ben Revere is pretty exciting to watch. I just watched him track down flies in center field and it’s pretty impressive.”
When told about Roy Halladay saying Chase encouraged him to drill some batters: “Awesome!”
If you felt it move, that's OK (photo via the Phillies)
Today is the day you’re angered by photos from Clearwater taken by reporters who are taking photos in Clearwater just to let you know that they’re in Clearwater, taking photos. It’s that day. Pitchers, catchers and several notables – including Carlos Ruiz, Jimmy Rollins and beautiful Chase Utley – reported for duty, and there was no shortage of annoying Tweets. Among the standouts, however, were these few bits of tid from the Phillies' social media person (who, last year, mistook Juan Pierre for Ryan Howard), John Clark (who is killing it with his Tweets today), and our friend William from St. Pete Beach Photo.
Howard Eskin looking kewl in the background (photo via St. Pete Beach Photo)
And therein lies the difference between Lee and Roy Halladay. No doubt that Roy has Chooch’s contract details and incentives hanging on a corkboard, likely somewhere just above his inflatable Chooch doll, at his house. But the Cliff Lee don’t care– he’d throw to a brick wall as long as it could handle his looping curve ball. Hey, you still around? Need more Adderall?*
Ruben Amaro brought his smugness to Clearwater, Also, muscles.
Finally, more positively adorable photos of Chase Utley, courtesy of our friends at St. Pete Beach Photo, who have a few more here (1-9 are from this year).
*Cliff Lee is one of well over a hundred Major Leaugers who are allowed to take Adderall. Carlos Ruiz, is not.
Last week, interwebers went crazy when news broke that Chase Utley was taking grounders at third base. He did it again on Tuesday. Other than some quotes from infield coach Sam Perlozzo, though, no one from the Phillies talked about how plausible it would be for Utley to be the Phillies’ future third baseman. He played 123 games there in AAA in 2002, and had the lowest fielding percentage of his professional career– .918 (next lowest is .970). But today, in an exclusive interview with CSN’s Jim Salisbury, Ruben Amaro was surprisingly candid. And probably smug.
Will your 2013 third baseman come from outside the organization?
Unless we feel Chase is a viable possibility there, and we’re exploring it.
What do you have to see before you think he could be a viable possibility? Don’t you have to see him in a game or two before this season is over, or send him to Instructional League?
Maybe. That’s really up to Chase. I don’t think we would send him to Instructional League. A lot of it depends on how he continues to progress as he takes ground balls, how he feels, and how comfortable or uncomfortable he is.
Is it possible he comes to you, say on Sept. 21, and says, “Let’s give it a try?”
Very possible. And I may go to him and say the same thing. Of course, I don’t want to put Chase, and I don’t think it’s fair to him – we don’t want to have people put in positions to fail. We want to put people in positions to succeed. That should be our business.
I do believe so. If he’s committed and feels comfortable doing it, I have to give him the benefit of the doubt based on his athleticism and makeup.
If he could do it …
It would be excellent. But I can’t sit here today and say he’s going to be our third baseman next year. That’s not fair to Chase.
The fact that Ruben even approached that possibility is fairly astonishing. It makes it less of a pipe dream and more of an option. Not sure it’s going to work, though. Chase’s strength as a fielder has always been his range and ability to make somewhat spectacular plays when given an extra bounce to track down a ball. But his arm strength has always been below average, and then there was that whole 2009 NLCS throwing accuracy thing.
It would be asking a lot of a guy to switch positions at this point in his career. Chase is a slightly different specimen, however, and probably has enough will power to not be terrible playing third. But would it work in the long-term? I asked Chase for his thoughts. He just shrugged…
We were so close to seeing a The ManGame last night.
So close yet a pitching staff away.
The Man Game and, similarly, the Harry Kalas Game are defined as:
The Man: Chase Utley wins it.
Harry Kalas Game: A friend of The Man game, this is one of those games where you just wish Harry were here to call it. Not necessarily an Aaron Heilman, more like a Panamanian Punch or an I Gotchu Game, where Harry would have just loved and appropriately called the magical moment. Also can be a history-making event (Doc’s no-hitter, etc.).
No such luck, though, mostly because, inexplicably, the Phillies couldn’t call up one able-bodied starter from three levels of minor leagues to pitch one game. Instead, they were stuck with Raul Valdes, Joe Savery, some other slops, and Chad Qualls. Qualls is exactly the type of motherfucker who just looks like he’s going to lose when he blumbers to the mound. I remember watching some ESPN special on the 1986 Red Sox, and I don’t know if it was Bill Simmons or someone else, but whoever it was said something to the effect of: “Once Bob Stanley came into Game 6 [against the Mets], you knew something bad was going to happen. He just had that typical Red Sox loser look. Kind of sad looking.”
That’s how I feel about Qualls.
He way too much resembles the likes of Kevin Millwood, Adam Eaton and Jon Lieber. He has that Grimus, everything falls toward the mid-section pear shape… kind of dopey looking… fruity hair. It’s all there. For once, the Phillies were mounting a comeback. There was energy in the ballpark for the first time since the second inning of Game 2 of the NLDS. Chase’s knees were reattached. Quirky things (like Cliff Lee pinch hitting in the second inning) were happening. It was all ready to boil over as the Phillies pulled within one, at 8-7.
Thanks for nothing. Phillies lose, 11-7. Chase’s 3-for-5 return? Ruined.
Here’s video of Chasey going yard in the first inning:
Awkward was a word assistant general manager Scott Proefrock used to describe what you might see from Howard as he leaves the batter's box.
"I'm not a trainer or a doctor or anything, but from talking to Scott, it's something he has to sort of relearn," Proefrock said, referring to head trainer Scott Sheridan. "It may look awkward initially, but it's something he has to get comfortable with. It's not something that is an issue with the Achilles or anything. It's something because of the inactivity; he has to get comfortable with the explosiveness part of it."
Chooch, You Son of a Bitch
As pointed out by several, Jim Thome appeared to call Chooch a son of a bitch after his first inning home run:
In case there is a cave in which you reside, Chase Utley will be batting third and playing second base for the Philadelphia Phillies tonight.
Meanwhile, Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard (who is preparing to begin a rehab stint in Lakewood), are working out in the outfield at CBP, according to reports. Life is good. And if you aim your nose upward, crinkle it, and do a little dance, you might be able to smell hittin’ season.
“Chooch hollers on the bench before we go on the field every night. He starts screaming and hollering, cursing a little bit.”
– Charlie Manuel on Carlos Ruiz
Ruiz now leads the Major in batting with a .361 average. And nearly all the Phillies writers had the exact same anecdote for your reading pleasure:
Todd Zolecki, Phillies.com:
Carlos Ruiz emerged from a back room in the Phillies' clubhouse late Tuesday night with a smile on his face.
He came to a stop and leaned against the red countertop in the middle of the room, where a reporter informed him that he is "leading the world" in hitting after going 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs in Tuesday's 5-4 victory over the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park. Ruiz is hitting .361, which leads the big leagues.
"Come on," Ruiz said in disbelief.
"Yeah, you're leading the world."
"Let me see," Ruiz said, trying to sneak a glance at the reporter's notebook.
"You are. Trust me."
The reporter repeated that Ruiz is leading the big leagues in batting, and asked Ruiz if he pinched himself. Ruiz thought about it, pinched his left arm and smiled.
"That's me," he joked.
Jim Salisbury, CSN Philly:
Reporter to Carlos Ruiz after the Phillies’ MVP had three hits to lead a 5-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night:
“Carlos, you’re leading the world in hitting.”
“Come on,” Ruiz responded.
“You’re leading the world,” the reporter said.
“Let me see,” said the catcher, motioning to the reporter’s notebook.
“Trust me,” the reporter responded.
“No, I’m serious,” the reporter said. “You’re leading the majors in hitting. Do you have to pinch yourself?”
Ruiz smiled and pinched his left forearm. His eyes brightened.
“That’s me,” he said, grinning ear to ear.
Matt Gelb, Philly.com:
"It's hard to explain," Ruiz said of his torrid season.
The catcher was asked if he had to pinch himself. He squeezed his left arm.
"That's me," Ruiz said.
#ISCHASEUTLEYINTHELINEUPTODAY? It sure looks like.
Last night, in Lehigh Valley, Chase went deep. CSN, covering his return like a presidential inauguration, sent in their ace, Leslie Gudel, for all important Phillies matter. Video of her speaking with Chase and of his home run:
Michael Schwimer was animated last night, and for once it had nothing to do with him pointing in the air at a home run ball:
The sorts of Tweets I receive:
On the hill for the big return tonight? Big Raul Valdes. Ticket prices soar: