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Phillies Notes: Foot injury gives Utley the night off


Phillies Notes: Foot injury gives Utley the night off
ST. LOUIS - When Chase Utley underwent hip surgery in November, the Phillies did not know if their all-star second baseman would be available in April. Not only was Utley present during the first month of the season, but he excelled, batting .346 with eight home runs.

Now the team hopes that a foot injury will not slow his excellent start. Utley, who was hit in the upper part of his right foot by a pitch Friday and was limited to a pinch-hitting appearance the next day, did not start last night after experiencing lingering pain during Monday's 6-1 win against the Cardinals. Utley was 1 for 2 with a walk Monday.

Yesterday afternoon, manager Charlie Manuel said that the day off was precautionary, and Utley was available to pinch-hit. Manuel did not know if the second baseman would play tonight against the Mets in New York.

"He started the game [Monday] and felt fine," Manuel said. "He wanted to play tonight. I felt like there was no sense of me taking a chance. . . . I want to make sure Utley is healthy."

Utley was hit in the first inning Friday and finished the game. Hindsight caused Manuel to question that decision. "If I knew how bad it was at that time, I might have taken him out of the game," he said.

Santana awaits The Phillies face lefthander Johan Santana tonight in their first game this season against the Mets' ace. Santana was 2-0 with a 2.97 earned run average against the Phils last season, but several Phillies hitters - including two lefties - have had success against the pitcher.

Raul Ibanez, playing for Kansas City and Seattle, is 12 for 34 (.353) lifetime against Santana with one home run; Ryan Howard is 6 for 14 (.429) with two home runs; and righthander Jayson Werth is 5 for 16 (.313) with one homer.

Manuel said that players are often especially motivated to perform well against premier pitchers, helping to offset some of their disadvantage. "When I played, I always wanted to face the best pitcher," the manager said. "That was a matter of pride for me. I'd get up for that."

Ibanez agreed. "When you're a little kid playing in the back yard, you never say that you want to strike out your neighbor. You say that you want to strike out the best hitter in the major leagues, or face the best pitcher. That's in everyone. That's in all human beings."

Ibanez could not further explain his numbers against Santana. "He's tough," he said. "Every time you face him he gets tougher, and he gets tougher as the game goes on. He makes his change-up look like a fastball every time. I don't want to overthink it."

Werth pointed to his slight advantage as a righthanded hitter. "That's kind of my role on this team, to offset the advantage that lefties have against this lineup," he said. "But he's got one of the best change-ups in the game, and it's not just his change-up. It's his fastball. He locates. He's smart. The delivery looks the same on every pitch."

Park needs to improve Chan Ho Park is not exactly pitching for his spot in the rotation tonight, but a poor outing could result in the Phils rethinking their pitching plans, a team source said. With J.A. Happ pitching well in the bullpen and Carlos Carrasco and Kyle Kendrick succeeding in triple A, competition for the job remains intense.

"I'm not saying it's a life-or-death thing," said Manuel. "But I think it's important he starts pitching better than he has been."

Ankiel out of hospital Cardinals outfielder Rick Ankiel was released from the hospital yesterday morning after X-rays and a CT scan of his neck revealed no fractures. Ankiel crashed headfirst into the outfield wall Monday while running down and catching a Pedro Feliz drive. He left the field on a stretcher.

An MRI exam revealed deep bruising on his right shoulder, and Ankiel's playing status was listed as day-to-day.

Contact staff writer Andy Martino at 215-854-4874 or amartino@phillynews.com.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 6, 2009

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