TRENTON - Nick Williams walked down the hallway with an ear-to-ear grin as he headed toward his team's locker room.
His new Double A, Reading Fightin Phils teammates greeted him with cheers and loud club music as soon as he cracked open the door. They didn't want to start their celebration routine without the newly acquired centerfielder and leadoff hitter, formerly of the Texas Rangers organization.
Williams and starting pitcher Jake Thompson were two of the five minor league prospects acquired in the Cole Hamels deal, which sent the former Phillies ace and reliever Jake Diekman to Texas last Wednesday.
Both made solid debuts Tuesday night in a 7-1 triumph over the Trenton Thunder, as Williams finished 2-for-5 and Thompson earned his first win for Reading, tossing seven innings and allowing six hits and one earned run. Thompson boasted an economical total of 75 pitches, throwing 51 for strikes.
He said he wasn't nervous, and that much was clear.
"This isn't the first time I've been traded," said Thompson, who was traded from Detroit to Texas in 2014. "My debut with the Rangers, I was really, really nervous and went out there and didn't throw very well, so I tried to stay calm and stay within myself, and I think I did a pretty good job of that.
"The first few innings I didn't try to blow people away with fastballs, really wasn't going after strikeouts, was trying to generate weak contact and I was able to do that."
Williams looked relatively unfazed as well, smacking a base hit on only the second pitch of his first at-bat as Reading's newest leadoff man. He also looked comfortable on defense, snagging every fly ball that came his way and playing an errorless game in the outfield.
However, he said he was a bit more anxious than he showed on the field.
"I've been off for five days, so I was nervous about how my at-bats were going to go, but it turned out good," Williams said. "Seeing my name as leadoff hitter today, I was like, 'Yikes.'
"The first hit felt great, especially off a lefty coming right in the game, I was, like, 'This is great.' "
Williams, a 21-year-old who bats and throws lefthanded, said he predicted a few weeks back he would be traded to the Phillies organization in a conversation with his friend and current Reading shortstop J.P. Crawford, the team's top prospect.
"I had been having a strong feeling about it," Williams said of the trade. "I told J.P. at the Futures Game like, 'Bro, we might be teammates in a few weeks, maybe a few days.'
"And he goes, 'Really?' and I'm, like, 'Yeah,' and it happened, so it really wasn't that much of a surprise."
Thompson, on the other hand, wasn't as privy to the trade rumors.
"There's always rumors, but, I mean, I had no clue," the 6-4 righthander said. "At that time, I considered myself a Texas Ranger and was going out there trying to do my job."
The duo's first game day as a part of the Phillies organization didn't go quite as planned early on, though.
After driving 21 hours straight from Texas to Pennsylvania with his girlfriend a few days ago, Williams had to endure another strenuous road trip Tuesday as it took about five hours to get from Reading to Trenton because of a bad accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Bensalem.
It was also a rough ride for Thompson, who lost a lot of warmup time due to the prolonged venture.
"That was pretty rough," Thompson said. "We were all expecting about an hour, hour and a half, and we end up sitting on the bus for five hours, so it was pretty rough.
"We played cards, talked, watched a movie; it was pretty bad."
In Chase Utley's first official game at second base since going on the disabled list with an inflamed right ankle in late June, it was evident the baseball gods wanted him to get his reps.
Trenton tested the veteran infielder's mobility early, sending three straight ground balls his way in the top of the first inning. But Utley didn't bat an eyelash.
"I think when you're playing defense you always want the ball hit to you," Utley said. "Three ground balls in the first inning, it was a nice challenge."
He dispatched each batter with relative ease, displaying a good range of motion and a quick first step to the ball. There were no signs of hesitation or even the slightest limp.
Utley went 1-for-4, singling to right and scoring two runs, in his rehab start with Reading.
"Just trying to create a little bit of timing," Utley said. "A few at-bats I had some timing, a couple of at-bats I was a little off, so it's just a work in progress trying to improve every at-bat.
"Obviously, you would like results, but having a good feel up there is more important than the result."