CLEARWATER, Fla. — When a player has not made an appearance in the Grapefruit League for two years, his mere presence in exhibition games becomes noteworthy. Such is the situation with Chase Utley, who has not appeared in a spring game since 2010.
He is scheduled to play two days in a row. The Phillies have an informal, intrasquad game Friday that Utley will start, Charlie Manuel said. The manager also indicated Utley will play in Saturday's Grapefruit League opener against Houston at Bright House Field.
Then, Utley will skip Sunday's road trip to Lakeland, Fla. It's likely Utley will play the majority of his spring games in the confines of Clearwater or nearby locales like Tampa or Dunedin.
Utley has fully participated in all drills during the workout period. He is without limitations, it appears.
"He worked hard this winter," Manuel said. "I think he really put a lot of hard time in last year. He went to Arizona. And I think after the season was over, with the way he's swinging right now and the way he looks, you could tell he’s definitely willing to pay the price to get back to where he was.
"I think Utley wants to play quite a few more years. And that's good."
Manuel typically wants his regulars to net some 70 plate appearances during the spring. He is fine relaxing those standards for Utley.
"If Ut doesn't get 70," Manuel said, "it's not like he hasn’t reached my goal or whatever."
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