CLEARWATER, Fla. - The way Shane Victorino sees it, why shouldn't he want to shoot for the stars with his next contract?
A day after telling two reporters he was seeking a five-year deal, Victorino softened his stance. He says a desire to remain in Philadelphia is paramount.
"I'd like to," the 31-year-old centerfielder said. "I'm not saying this will be my last one. It might be. Who knows? What I'm saying is, why not finish it here? I made it seem like I want a five-year deal, but I'd love to stay."
Of course, Victorino has said that all along. And while a certain amount of public posturing is required for contract negotiations - see Jimmy Rollins' five-year proclamation last October - there is little doubt he would relinquish free agency if the right deal came soon.
"Basically, what I want, I'd like to get something done now rather than later," Victorino said. "That's what the basis of this whole thing is. I want to do something now, to see if we can come to terms on something. I'm not saying I don't want to hit free agency. Free agency is what every athlete dreams of, maximizing their value.
"So why would I want to avoid that chance? Why not maximize what I have now, what's laid out in front of me? An opportunity to play for a winning team that I've been a part of. That's what I'm trying to get at. I'm not saying I'm going to get a five-year deal. I mean, who knows? Who says I can't get a seven-year deal? I don't know."
Victorino would likely be the top centerfielder on the market this winter. B.J. Upton and Michael Bourn will also be free agents.
He said his agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, had yet to formally engage in contract negotiations with the Phillies.
"We'll talk about it openly," Victorino said, "and see if the two sides can try to figure something out."
Victorino said his agents have suggested Torii Hunter and Aaron Rowand as comparable players. Each centerfielder received a five-year deal in free agency. Hunter was 32 when he signed a five-year, $90 million contract. Rowand was 30 when he signed a five-year $60 million deal.
But the Phillies have prioritized a Cole Hamels extension this spring. They are well aware of what Victorino seeks even before formal negotiations have begun.
"My whole thing, more than anything, I would like to get something done now," Victorino said. "I'd like to be a Phillie for the rest of my career. That's happy enough for me."
Chase Utley will not be at second base when the Phillies open their Grapefruit League schedule Saturday against the Yankees. Utley may not see game action for some time as the Phillies attempt to rest his chronically injured right knee so he's fresher for the season.
"It might be a little while before I play him," Charlie Manuel said. "I want him to keep doing his regular workouts. Right now, I'm in no hurry to play him as long as we can have him ready when the season starts. We just want him to feel good about where he's at with his practice and hitting."
Typically, Manuel likes his regulars to have at least 70 at-bats in the spring. It appears as if he's willing to ease that requirement for Utley. Last week, Utley said the first few weeks will be slower than normal.
"You guys might not see me on the field on a daily basis," Utley said, "so don't freak out if that happens."
Hamels starts opposite New York's Ivan Nova in the opener Saturday. The game will be televised on Comcast SportsNet. . . . Manuel said third baseman Placido Polanco will also be rested this weekend.