Friday, August 28, 2015

Utley at first base? Don't laugh

PHOENIX — There isn't much else to discuss in the aftermath of a 9-5 drubbing at the hands of the Diamondbacks, so look ahead. And this is way ahead, far more ahead than we should be thinking.

Utley at first base? Don't laugh

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Could Chase Utley play first base for the Phillies when he returns from injury? (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Could Chase Utley play first base for the Phillies when he returns from injury? (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

PHOENIX — There isn't much else to discuss in the aftermath of a 9-5 drubbing at the hands of the Diamondbacks, so look ahead. And this is way ahead, far more ahead than we should be thinking.

Freddy Galvis has played quite well. It's only been 17 games, but the 22-year-old rookie has done more than hold his own. His defensive contributions will compensate for his shortcomings at the plate. (And he does have five extra-base hits, which ties for the team lead.)

The Phillies first baseman quartet of Ty Wigginton/John Mayberry Jr./Laynce Nix/Jim Thome? They haven't been awful; Phillies first basemen ranked eighth in the National League with a .730 OPS entering Monday.

With Chase Utley around the team for three days as only a taste for what the team hopes is a timely return, it's reasonable to wonder what will happen with the infield. This, of course, is presuming Utley returns before Ryan Howard does. It looks that way, but there are no formal timetables for either player and both are undergoing complex rehab processes.

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But the question was raised to Charlie Manuel and, if you'll notice, he did not squash it.

Could Chase Utley play first base upon his return?

"We'll figure that out when we get there," Manuel said. "When we have to decide on that, we will."

By the time Utley returns, it could be moot. Maybe one of Wigginton/Mayberry/Nix/Thome has a hot bat. Maybe Galvis' bat has slowed so much that he's a liability. Maybe Utley doesn't feel comfortable at first.

Utley has played 26 career games (22 starts) at first base. He last did it in 2008. Playing first might reduce the wear and tear on his bad knees. But that's not a given.

If anything, it's something to ponder.


Have a question? Send it to Matt Gelb's Mailbag.

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