Phillies Notes: Charlie Manuel has no plans to switch Chase Utley's position

Posted: June 05, 2012

Charlie Manuel is not so sure that playing a position other than second base will alleviate the pain in Chase Utley's chronically injured knees.

"If he's going to have pain, he can have pain at first base, left field, right field, wherever. Just like he would have at second," the Phillies manager said. "Getting him healthy and seeing what he can still do is the big thing."

But then there is this: Manuel would not completely shut the door on Utley's playing left field or first base, however unlikely, upon his return. Utley played in his first extended spring training game Monday in Clearwater, Fla., and went 3 for 4 with a home run as designated hitter.

Utley is still weeks away from a return, but his progress allows some moments to think ahead. Freddy Galvis has played adeptly at second base. There has been production in left field from Juan Pierre, but it remains unsettled.

Even then, the Phillies have a greater need for offensive production at second base than left field. Galvis may offer better defense, but the team would have to evaluate whether the offensive gap outweighs the defensive one.

Could the Phillies move Utley to keep Galvis active? It's unlikely, especially in the middle of the season, but still not out of the question. Manuel said the idea has come up in informal conversations. But before anything like that were to happen, the manager said Utley would have a strong say.

"We should sit him down and really ask him that before we do that," Manuel said. "He's earned that right, to at least have a say in that."

Last week, Utley said he was focused on his health and not a potential position switch.

"I haven't thought about it too much," he said.

When asked whether he was committed to Utley as his second baseman, Manuel declined to answer.

"I don't have to right now," Manuel said. "When he comes back, we'll see. Why should I answer that today? That's sending the wrong message."

Whatever the case, it's likely Utley is eventually the Phillies' second baseman. But down the line, a switch is not as crazy as it seemed before.

Home failures

Last season, the Phillies won 52 games at home. Only Milwaukee had more among National League teams. This season, the Phillies entered Monday with 12 home wins. Only Arizona had fewer.

"That just goes to show about the consistency I talk about," Manuel said. "For us to have a good season, we have to win at home. Our home record has always played a big part in what we do. Our home record is very important."

Extra bases

A Phillies official said the team had not yet received a second opinion on Roy Halladay's injured shoulder. The pitcher's 2009 MRI was sent Friday for comparison to a more recent one, and that had not been completed over the weekend.

Jim Thome (back) was 3 for 4 with two doubles in a minor-league rehabilitation game with single-A Clearwater. . . . The Phillies activated infielder Michael Martinez (foot) from the disabled list and optioned him to triple-A Lehigh Valley. Jose Contreras (elbow) was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.Leftfielder Laynce Nix, sidelined since May 10 with a strained left calf, did some jogging before Monday's game. He could be closer to increased work in Florida or a rehab assignment.

Two single-A Clearwater players, lefthander Jesse Biddle and third baseman Cody Asche, were named the Phillies' minor-leaguers of the month for May. Biddle, a Germantown Friends graduate, had a 1.36 ERA in six May starts, with 32 strikeouts in 33 innings. . . . The Phils are expected to sell righthander Dave Bush to a South Korean team. The eight-year major-league veteran had a 3.16 ERA in 11 starts for triple-A Lehigh Valley.


Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com or follow @magelb on Twitter.

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