With field wet, Chase Utley is scratched from lineup

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Some 40 minutes before Tuesday's scheduled first pitch, Charlie Manuel and Ryne Sandberg took a stroll to where Chase Utley would normally stand on the infield dirt. The area was pounded by rain all morning, and once the tarp was removed from the field, more water formed there.

Opie Cheek, the head groundskeeper at Bright House Field, drove his tractor toward Manuel and Sandberg. Manuel walked in circles as he talked.

The manager saw enough. There was no sense in risking Utley's newfound spring health.

Just before first pitch, Utley was scratched because of the wet conditions. As the announcement was made, Utley stood in the dugout with catching coach Mick Billmeyer.

"When I walked out there, there was all this water dumped in the area there," Manuel said. "It was still cloudy, so I just didn't play him."

Utley was replaced by Kevin Frandsen at second base.

With a long trip to Fort Myers on Wednesday, Utley's next game action should come Thursday against Atlanta in Clearwater.

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