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Blogging about the 5x NL East Champion Phillies

After three games, still no Chase Utley

Phillies 2B Chase Utley. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Charlie Manuel’s plan this spring was to not overwork his aging second and third basemen too early.

Three games into the spring, only one game has been played between Placido Polanco and Chase Utley. Polanco finally made his spring today against the Yankees, going __.

As for Utley, he has yet to take a cut in the first three Grapefruit League games. And it doesn’t look like Manuel will be in a hurry to give his star second baseman playing time any time soon.

“Nope, It’s going to be a while yet,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “I don’t have (a plan) yet.”

It isn’t a health thing, so to say. Granted Manuel doesn’t want Utley or Polanco, who spent time on the DL last season with right knee and elbow problems respectively to be overworked at all this preseason or regular season.

Utley had missed the first seven weeks of last season with right knee tendinitis and it affected the Phillies line up negatively.

It’s the reason that the Phillies signed Ty Wigginton and Laynce Nix, two guys who can play the middle infield and corner infield positions if necessary. It’s also why they have been playing a lot of Michael Martinez at second base so far, to get him innings at the position.

That being said, Manuel hasn’t even thought about playing Utley as a pinch-hitter or designated hitter yet. He also reassured the writers that Utley is healthy and ready, just taking his time this spring.

“You see him out there walking around hitting, don’t you?” Manuel said. “We’re not ready to turn him loose yet.”

Ruben Amaro said that this was the Phillies plan all along.

“We talked about him not playing for the first week or two weeks,” Amaro said. “We’re going to ease him into it. We know he’ll be ready when the bell rings. We just want to make sure he’s as fresh and as healthy as he can possibly be on Opening Day.”

And that’s a good plan. With Ryan Howard already set to miss the first couple of months of the season recovering from a ruptured Achilles, the Phillies don’t want another member of the heart of their order to miss significant time at the start of the season.

Polanco did very well in his debut. He went 2-for-3 with an RBI.

In the 1st, Polanco successfully moved Jimmy Rollins over on a hit-and-run ground out. In the 3rd, he drove in Rollins after the short stop singled and stole two bases.

“You’re still trying to get your legs in shape, keep your body strong,” Polanco said. “If you don’t play (every game) it’s not a problem. … Especially in my case, I don’t have along swing, I have a short swing… it doesn’t take me a lot of at-bats to get ready.”

A deep bench is going to be important for the Phils success this season, especially with the oldest infield in baseball. Guys like Polanco and Utley are going to benefit from it this season.
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