IT WAS AN opportunity, not a necessity. That's what Charlie Manuel said of his decision to keep Chase Utley out of the lineup last night, despite the fact that the Phillies were coming off an off day and would enjoy another one tomorrow. With lefty Scott Kazmir on the mound and a day game today, Manuel decided that he would take advantage of the opportunity to get his 34-year-old second baseman 3 days of rest in a 4-day span.
"I saw that it was an opportunity to kind of give him a blow," said Manuel, adding that the chance to "monitor him" and "get him off his feet" would be "good" for his star.
Manuel has said several times this season that he has a plan for resting Utley, who missed the first 3 months of last season and the first 2 months of 2011 while battling chronic soreness in his knees. In spring training, the second baseman said he was confident he can play at a high level while managing the health of his knees, and thus far he has backed it up. Utley entered yesterday hitting .289 with a .344 on-base percentage and .514 slugging percentage, while on pace for close to 30 home runs and 100 RBI. But Manuel's decision was a reminder that Utley's health is still something that the Phillies are taking into consideration.
Utley appeared in each of the first 39 games, starting all but two of them. He had started 13 games in 13 days before Monday's off day. The last time he was not in the starting lineup was April 23 against the Pirates. After tomorrow's off day, the Phillies play six games before an off day on May 23. They then play 17 consecutive games without a break.
Ben Revere's overall numbers still aren't very pretty, but over his previous 19 games he is hitting .286 with a .333 on-base percentage and .339 slugging percentage, all of which are better than his career averages.
So the guy you have seen for more than the last half of the season is the guy the Phillies traded for. Still, Manuel decided to get a platoon advantage by using the righthanded John Mayberry Jr. in centerfield against Scott Kazmir. This, despite Revere entering the day hitting .357 with a .438 OBP in his last 11 games. Manuel would not label the situation a platoon, and he said he is sticking with Revere as his centerfielder.
But he also acknowledged that he has thought about getting utility infielder Freddy Galvis some work at the position. Galvis has hit well in limited action this season, going 15-for-51 with three doubles, two home runs and five walks. Consider the situation fluid.
Righthander Mike Adams continues to be affected by a sore back, although Charlie Manuel declined before the game to say whether he would have his setup man at his disposal . . . Manuel said it would be a stretch to expect lefty John Lannan to return before the end of the month. That would mean the Phillies would need a fill-in fifth starter for at least two more outings (May 22 and May 28). Thanks to their recent off days, they have been carrying only four starting pitchers . . . Projected opposing starters for the Phillies' next four series: Reds - righthanders Tony Cingrani, Bronson Arroyo and Homer Bailey; Marlins - righthanders Alex Sanabia, Jose Fernandez and Kevin Slowey; Nationals - righthander Dan Haren, lefthander Ross Detwiler and righthander Stephen Strasburg; Red Sox - righthanders Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster and John Lackey, and lefthander Jon Lester.