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MLB Better Things To Come For Phillies
Thursday June 28,2012 : MLB Betting – Utley’s Return Could Be A Sign Of Better Things To Come For Phillies
It was as though he had never left. Philadelphia Phillies’ second basemen Chase Utley returned to the lineup on Wednesday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates after missing his first 76 games of the season due to a chronic problem in both of his knees, and in his first at-bat he smashed a solo shot for his first home run of the season. A five-time All-Star, Utley received a standing ovation during pregame introductions and again when he came to the plate, so when he sent that 2-2 pitch over the wall for his first long ball of the season, the crowd went absolutely crazy. Carlos Ruiz would follow up the Utley home run with another solo shot to help the Phillies make it 2-0, but it wouldn’t be their night as the Pirates won the game 11-7. Utley however, finished 3-for-5 on the night, and it could be a sign of things to come.
The 33-year old Utley has missed time before, but when he is healthy he has always been a productive player. Utley sat out the first 46 games last season before returning to have the least productive season of his career, batting .259 with 11 home runs and 44 RBI, but even those numbers are good considering all that he has been through and how much the Phillies’ offense needs help. Philadelphia has actually climbed to sixth in batting average, but is just 10th in runs scored, and with the pitching really struggling this season, they will need nights where the offense carries the load.
Utley had been sidelined all season with a condition called Bilateral Chondromalacia, and played nine games with Class-A Clearwater during his rehab stint before finishing it up Tuesday night at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he also hit a home run and played all nine innings at second base. While he made it through those games just fine, the smartest thing for the Phillies to do could be to give him as much rest as possible, maybe even trying him out at another position that could take less of a toll on his knees. The fact that Philadelphia plays in the National League doesn’t help, since there is no designated hitter role for Utley to play, which would have of course limited how hard he would be on his knees in the field.
A healthy Utley will undoubtedly provide the Phillies with a little more edge as they attempt to work their way out of a nine-game deficit in the National League East. While they are by no means in contention right now at five games below .500, this is a talented team that many felt would be challenging for a division title this season, and if they can get healthy they could still have a chance to turn it around. Slugger Ryan Howard and ace Roy Halladay are both on the comeback trail and should be ready to return to the lineup in the next couple of weeks, so baseball fans in Philadelphia still have hopes that a late rally isn’t out of the question.
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