Phillies

Chase Utley refuses to go away

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Chase Utley refuses to go away

Chase Utley refuses to go away.

Utley, now 39, agreed to a two-year deal to return to the Dodgers, according to FanRag's Jon Heyman on Tuesday.

Utley has spent the last 2½ seasons in L.A. since being traded by the Phillies in August 2015. In those parts of three seasons, he's hit .240/.317./.395 and gone 4 for 46 in the playoffs.

But the Dodgers don't just want Utley for his offensive numbers. They value his work ethic, leadership and the vibe that rubs off on the rest of the clubhouse when he's around. The Dodgers are a deep team with a ton of talent and they clearly like the intangibles Utley brings.

Good for Chase, who made $7 million in 2016 and $2 million last season.

The bulk of Utley's playing time will likely come at second base against right-handed pitching as Logan Forsythe's platoon partner.

If Utley plays out the two-year contract, he'll have 17 major-league seasons under his belt. Pretty incredible to think about considering some questioned how much longer he could play when the chronic knee issues began to hamper him all the way back in 2010.

The Phillies' only home series against the Dodgers this season is July 23-25.

Tim Tebow's chances of actually playing in majors

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Tim Tebow's chances of actually playing in majors

Could "Tim Tebow in the major leagues" actually be a thing in 2018?

The mere suggestion that Tebow could one day rise to baseball's highest level sounded crazy in the summer of 2016 when he signed with the Mets.

One former Phillie referred to it as a "slap in the face."

Longtime baseball man Larry Bowa said this in August 2016:

"Whosever idea it is, they don't respect the game of baseball. It's a hard game. You don't come in at age 28 or 29. I'm not saying he's not a good athlete, but this is a hard game and there are a lot of good athletes in pro ball that never get to the big leagues. 

"I don't think it can happen. There are guys 28 or 29 that are getting released everyday. How can you take 10 years off and all of the sudden be facing guys throwing 95, guys throwing sliders?"

Yet here we are in spring training 2018 and Mets GM Sandy Alderson has said he expects to see Tebow play in The Show.

"Somebody asked me whether I think he'll be a major league player at some point," Alderson told reporters Sunday. "I think he will play in the major leagues. That's my guess. That's my hope, and to some extent now after a year and a half, a modest expectation."

Bovada has set Tebow's odds of playing in the majors in the 2018 or 2019 regular season at 6/1. If you bet against him, it's 1/10, meaning a $100 bet would win you $10.

Tebow played at two levels in 2017: Class A and Class A Advanced. He hit .226/.309/.347 with 24 doubles, eight homers and 52 RBIs in 486 plate appearances. He walked 43 times and struck out 126.

Nearly all of Tebow's minor-league innings have come in left field, where he had 10 errors and two outfield assists in 2017.

Tebow last appeared in the NFL in the 2015 preseason with the Eagles. He went 21 for 36 for 286 yards with two TDs and an interception, adding 82 yards on 14 carries with a TD on the ground but failing to make Chip Kelly's 53-man roster.

Bombs away! Nick Williams takes aim on manager's car in batting practice

Bombs away! Nick Williams takes aim on manager's car in batting practice

CLEARWATER, Fla. — A week into camp, Nick Williams looks primed to build on last year’s impressive rookie season.

Williams has been launching balls in batting practice and manager Gabe Kapler loves it — even if it means he’ll be charged for a little damage to his rental car.

On Tuesday, Williams clubbed a ball far over the fence at Mike Schmidt Field. It landed on the roof of Kapler’s rented Ford Explorer, leaving a dent that would hold a couple of servings of creamed spinach.

“I would trade a Nick Williams home run for a dent in a rental car any day of the week,” Kapler said Tuesday.

“I’m glad he said that,” Williams said Wednesday morning, “because it felt kind of good to hit it.”

Later on Wednesday, Williams put on another power display at Schmidt Field. It was so impressive that Cesar Hernandez considered leaving the field, grabbing his keys and moving his car.

“I just missed Cesar’s car,” Williams said with a laugh.

Kapler was again impressed with Williams’ round of BP.

“Today we had a nice little breeze coming in from right field,” Kapler said. “The breeze did not stop Nick Williams from destroying the baseball and almost hitting my car for a second day straight.

“If he is destroying cars and it happens to be mine, no problem.”

Kapler has no intention of parking elsewhere in coming days. In fact, he likes the idea of Williams using his car for target practice.

“We’re going to make it a bull’s-eye for him,” Kapler said. “That’ll be a running joke. It’s a great way to build relationships. It’s part of the whole scientific plan to make this work.”

Williams, 24, arrived in the majors in June of last season. He played in 83 games and hit .288 with 12 homers, 55 RBIs and an .811 OPS. Like a number of players on the roster, he would benefit from fewer strikeouts and more walks (97/20 in 343 plate appearances last season), but a week into camp, Kapler likes the hitting potential he sees in the young outfielder.

“He’s really shining,” Kapler said. “He really is. He walks around with a perpetual smile on his face.

“Our hitting coaches are enthused about the bat path. The way he sort of lofts the ball to the middle of the field. Some hitters, when they strike their best ball, it’s on the ground. But Nick, when he makes his most solid contract, it has a nice loft to his swing. And in the middle of the field, there aren’t many guys who can drive the ball like he can.”

The Phillies have four outfielders worthy of regular playing time. Rhys Hoskins and Odubel Herrera line up to play left field and center field, respectively. Williams will get time in right. Aaron Altherr can play any outfield position.

Kapler is reluctant to assign roles at this point in camp. But he is confident he can find all four playing time.

“I’m not concerned about that,” he said. “Between pinch-hitting, interleague, someone getting a tweak and missing a week, the occasional rep at first base [for Hoskins], they’re all going to get a ton of reps. I envision plenty of at-bats to keep everybody satisfied, healthy and performing well.”