Utley liked that idea.
"I never put anything past Chase," Perlozzo said. "His mind wills him to do things. I don't really know if we have enough time."
Four hours before first pitch, Ruben Amaro Jr. intently watched Utley. The Phillies general manager typically does not arrive that early to the ballpark. After the session ended, Utley gathered with Amaro and the three coaches for a chat.
It was the fourth time Utley worked at third base. The move is far from guaranteed, but all parties involved appear to be seriously considering it.
"He was quick," Perlozzo said. "His footwork was quick."
Perlozzo has two more sessions scheduled. One will combine Friday's drill with throwing. At times, Utley has asked Perlozzo if he has enough time to make the throw on certain grounders. So Perlozzo wants a few base runners to gauge Utley's timing.
Obviously, it would be easier if Utley could play in a game situation to learn. As long as the Phillies are in contention, that will not happen.
"I hope we don't ever get a chance to play him," Perlozzo said, laughing.
"It's kind of a double-edged sword," manager Charlie Manuel said.
Indeed, it complicates Utley's circumstances. Would the Phillies really commit to him as a third baseman in 2013 without seeing him in a game? Playing him in winter ball appears unrealistic considering Utley has not been ready for opening day the last two seasons, when he did not have the added strain of winter activity.
Utley may not see game action at third until spring training. Perlozzo said Utley is moving at a pace that makes game action in 2012 possible should the Phillies fall back.
"We can work and work, but the ideal situation is to play him in games," Perlozzo said. "Right now, we can't do that."
Ruiz, Frandsen play
After a night when the Phillies stranded 11 runners and scored three runs against five Astros pitchers, Manuel put his best possible offense on the field Friday.
Both Carlos Ruiz and Kevin Frandsen started. Both have been hobbled with injuries. Both have been productive this year.
Frandsen (fracture in shin) had not started in nine days before Thursday. He said he can play as long as he can tolerate the pain.
Manuel has stated the Phillies will be cautious with Ruiz (tear in foot), but there are indications the team is willing to turn him loose. Ruiz could catch again Sunday, and, if all goes well, he may assume the regular duties again.
Ryan Howard has struck out in 36 of his 74 at-bats against lefties, but Manuel did not sound keen on sitting him Saturday against Houston lefty Dallas Keuchel. . . . Jimmy Rollins stole his 400th career base Thursday.
Contact Matt Gelb at email@example.com, or follow on Twitter @magelb.