CINCINNATI — There was no stare, no eye rolling, nothing. When Charlie Manuel told Chase Utley he was not in the lineup for Monday's series opener against the Reds, Utley peacefully reacted.
"He didn't say anything," Manuel said.
The second baseman's first respite came in the season's 13th game. Over the weekend, both Michael Young and Jimmy Rollins sat for a day. Manuel vowed to manage his aged infield with more caution than ever. So far, he has stuck to his word.
The Phillies are in the midst of a 17-game stretch without a scheduled day off.
"I figured he hasn't been off," Manuel said. "We've played 12 games. I said I was going to watch him. I said I was going to pick times to sit him."
The decision was easier with Freddy Galvis' recent production. Galvis started his third straight game. In the previous two, he reached base five times in eight plate appearances. Combine that with Utley's last two games: 1 for 9 with nine runners stranded on base, and Manuel had a formula for rest.
Even with a forgettable weekend, no development in the first 12 games is more encouraging for the Phillies than Utley's performance. He hit .277 with an .859 OPS. He is tied for the major-league lead with two triples. He is moving with ease, even if he has lost a step defensively.
"The way he's running, that tells me he feels good and he's in real good shape," Manuel said. "He's healthy. He feels much better."
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