Manuel: Utley Out of Lineup, But Healthy
PHILADELPHIA—Forecasts are sometimes misleading.
Weather.com may tell you temperatures near Citizens Bank Park for tonight’s Game 2 against the Pirates hover around 43 degrees. Maybe. But it sure feels colder.
So between that and the Phillies scheduling outlook, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel decided to give Chase Utley the day. He will be available to pinch-hit, Manuel said.
Freddy Galvis will start in his stead at second.
“Chase is fine,” he said.
Manuel noted that the Phillies next day off won’t come for another five days, until the day before the series opener in Cleveland. The next after won’t come for another 13.
Utley has played in all but one of the Phillies games so far, in Cincinnati on April 15, when he solo homered to tie it in an eventual loss. Seven games since, 12 before.
That, it seems, takes precedence over matchups. Pirates starter Jeff Locke has a 5.17 ERA and strikeout-to-walk ratio under one on the year, and though he's a lefty, a .389/.450/.500 against lefties like Utley.
“I wanna make sure that I get him off his feet every now and then,” Manuel said.
Weather, Manuel said, was also a factor. Utley hasn’t played in April since 2010, the first year his degenerative knee condition set in. And even though he batted .275/.431/.550 then and is hitting .306/.354/.528 now, ability isn’t the only consideration.
“I worry about that, too,” Manuel said when asked about Utley in these conditions. “Actually, you’re more likely to get hurt in cold weather than you are when it’s warm.”
Utley has held up about as well as could’ve been expected, though there have been a few uncharacteristic miscues. He booted a grounder that scored the go-ahead run in a walk-off loss in Miami on April 13. He misstepped on a potentially inning-ending out Saturday against the Cardinals, who scored two more runs that frame. He rounded third and trotted home on a pop up with one out a day later, as if he didn’t know the count.
“He’s alright,” Manuel said when asked about them. “He’ll work over anything. (So long as I just) shut up, leave him alone he’ll do fine. He’ll get mad at me, it’ll work.”
Such is Manuel Management Strategy 101.