Following Chase Utley’s departure from the Phillies, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com pays tribute to one of the greatest and most beloved players in franchise history. Salisbury recalls the draft-day dilemma the Phillies faced, weighing the decision between Utley and Rocco Baldelli (though the Rays made the decision easier by selecting Baldelli nine picks before Utley). The selection reshaped the Phillies’ history, leading to the emergence of a player that Salisbury calls a “100 percent pure ballplayer” and whom Salisbury believes played through more pain and injury as a member of the Phillies than anyone in recent history. Meanwhile, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News spoke to a number of Phillies players about their favorite Utley memories and what it meant to have him as a teammate.
More on the Phillies’ transition and the rest of their division…
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that while the Phillies may have waited too long to begin their rebuilding process, they deserve credit for making their sixth trade in the past eight months that has bettered the organization. The Phillies did well to include more than $24MM in cash considerations to improve their returns (to say nothing of taking on the remaining $32MM of Matt Harrison’s contract), and as Rosenthal points out, nine of their top 16 prospects at MLB.com have been acquired in the past year’s trades. One rival exec to whom Rosenthal spoke praised the Phillies for ultimately doing what needed to be done — “[they] sold everyone they could get value from.”
- Hector Olivera’s debut with the Braves could come as soon as next Monday, reports David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The infielder, acquired from the Dodgers in a 13-player trade last month, had his minor league rehab assignment moved up to Triple-A on Thursday. O’Brien spoke to Freddie Freeman about the acquisition of Olivera, and Freeman candidly admitted that it was tough, as a player, to see the team give up so many players to acquire a hitter who has never played a Major League game. However, Freeman also saw Olivera while the two were rehabbing together and did come away impressed with the infielder’s skills — particularly his power. As O’Brien notes, Olivera has defensive versatility, but the Braves plan to make him their everyday third baseman.
- Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton is hopeful that he can return to the roster by early September, writes MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Stanton says he’s still feeling weakness when turning over his wrist, but he has progressed to hitting 95 mph pitches in the batting cage on back-to-back pain-free days. Stanton has been on the shelf since June 26, when he broke his hamate bone upon being hit by a pitch. He underwent surgery two days later.