Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Utley refuses to look too far ahead

PITTSBURGH -- Chase Utley insists that he isn’t worried about the future and what the Phillies will look like on Aug. 1, the day after the non-waiver trade deadline.

Utley refuses to look too far ahead

PITTSBURGH -- Chase Utley insists that he isn’t worried about the future and what the Phillies will look like on Aug. 1, the day after the non-waiver trade deadline.

If he did look that far, things would likely be no brighter than the present. The Phillies have sunk to season-high 14 games under .500 following Sundays 6-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

Utley was the Phillies lone all-star representative, voted in as a starter for the sixth time. Right now, he’s worried only about Monday’s game in Milwaukee against the Brewers and not all the problems, especially on offense, that the Phillies are encountering.

“I think you guys know from being around me long enough I try not to look too far into the future,” Utley said. “I try to prepare for the next day.”

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Even Utley probably realizes that big changes are in store for the Phillies because something has to be done to shake what has become a lifeless team up.

“A lot can happen between now and the end of the month, good and bad and we will see how it plays out,” Utley says.

When hearing comments from manager Ryne Sandberg and the players, the central theme, even if they don’t come out and say it, is that the Phillies have woefully underachieved. This is no revelation, but any time a team isn’t performing up to expectations, there is no other conclusion.

“I feel we have a better offensive team than how we have performed over the course of the year,” Utley said. “We had some really good games and had too many not so good games.”

It could be that the Phillies overrated their talent, but to a man, the players think they are better than their 37-51 record suggests.

“It’s very hard to believe,” said A.J. Burnett, who pitched seven solid innings, allowing three runs in earning Sunday’s loss. “We have a lot of talent in this room.”

Yet is that really the case?

The Phillies players and Sandberg may be giving grades based on performances of three and four years ago.

A major problem is that the Phillies have too many below average hitters. In Sunday’s starting lineup there were six players now hitting below .250. And that didn’t count Ryan Howard (.230).

To a man, the players say they have to keep grinding and they can come out of it.

Yet maybe it’s possible that this is the best they can do. And if that’s the case, there’s a good reason why Utley or anybody else doesn’t want to look too far into the future.

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The place for up-to-the-minute Phillies coverage from The Inquirer beat writer Matt Gelb and columnist Bob Brookover.

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