Health: Utley confident about Opening Day

According to MLB.com, Phillies 2B Chase Utley is optimistic that he’ll be ready for Opening Day.

Utley went 2-for-4 with a double in a minor league game on Saturday, felt fine the next morning, and played in his first Grapefruit League game on Sunday, going hitless in two at bats.

“I think we’re right on track,” Utley told reporters on Sunday.  “The more I play, the better I feel, the more optimistic I am.  As long as we continue to have no setbacks like we haven’t had so far, I don’t see why we won’t be ready for Opening Day.”

Utley had surgery on his hip last November.

News: Tatis's Hand, Cole's Comments, Media, etc.

According to the Associated Press, Fernando Tatis was scratched from yesterday’s intra-squad game due to a sore right hand.

Tatis said he expects to be ready to play Tuesday, though he is not in either starting lineup.

Phillies RHP Cole Hamels had the following to say on WIP Radio in Philadelphia, when asked to define the word ‘choke,’ as it pertains to sports:

“The word ‘choke’ means you weren’t able to fully come through when you were supposed to… I think the Mets had the top teams [the last two seasons].  They pretty much had the championships in the bag and they weren’t able to come through… A lot of guys will perceive them as choking in the end and not fulfilling their end of the bargain, because they should have taken it.  You know what?  It really does show the strength and hard work, and I guess the deep down guts that we have to take it away from them.”

3306500836_b4ecb3d2c1In a post to his blog for the New York Post, Joel Sherman says Oliver Perez has become Johan Santana’s ‘special project,’ since the end of last year, according to Dan Warthen.

“Maybe for the first time in Ollie’s life he’s ready to listen and Johan is there to help,” Warthen told Sherman.

yesterday, i watched santana and perez throw dueling bullpen sessions under the watchful eye of warthen… after which the three talked off the mound in private for some time

Ben Shpigel of the New York Times writes a profile of Mets 3B coach Razor Shines, who has been hard to miss this spring as he broadcasts jokes, encouragement and criticism from behind the pitching machine.

“His enthusiasm, energy and knowledge are critical in what we’re trying to accomplish here,” Manuel told Shpigel about Shines.

Lastly, speaking of Manuel, in Newsday, David Lennon does a great job of explaining how Manuel uses the media to his advantage, which Steve Popper adds to on his blog for the Bergen Record, pulling from his days covering Pat Reilly and the Knicks.

Note: Phillies "Exclusive" Tix Pre-Sale

If you are interested, the Phillies are currently holding an exclusive pre-sale for single game tickets.

You can purchase tickets during this exclusive sale until 11:59 pm EST on Wednesday, February 18, by clicking here.

…last april i had the opportunity to meet up with cerrone, ted berg, and several readers from the blog at a Mets-Phillies game in philly and it was pure entertainment…it’s nice seeing a visitor’s stadium full of Mets fans, especially in philly, even if you’re fearing for your life…

Note: Phillies can Talk all They Want

Paul Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer had choice words for the Mets, and Phillies RHP Bret Myers responded to Francisco Rodriguez’s team-to-beat statement, according to the Adam Rubin of the Daily News.

… i can tell from the e-mail people send me that they expect me to be all hot and bothered by this stuff… but, the fact is, i just don’t care… the Phillies can say whatever they want… and we, and the team, need to take it… the only way it stops is by the Mets winning… end of story… so, K-Rod, and whomever else wants to talk smack from Tradition Field, zip it… please, prove your value on the field with actions, not words…

Outfield: Phillies agree to deal with Ibanez

The Phillies and outfielder Raul Ibanez have agreed to a three-year, $30 million deal, reports Ken Rosenthal at FoxSports.com.

According to Rosenthal, and multiple reports throughout the week, the Mets, Cubs, Nationals and Angels had also expressed interest in signing Ibanez.

In November, ESPN’s Jayson Stark wrote that at least 12 teams had been interested, including every team in the NL East.

On Tuesday, Rosenthal wrote that members of the Mets front office had been spotted meeting with Ibanez’s agents at a restaurant inside the Bellagio.

Ibanez played in all 162 games this season, and hit .293 with 23 HR, 110 RBI and a .358 OBP.

He has hit at least .280 with 20 HR and a .350 OBP during each of the last four seasons with the Mariners.

Stark also quoted a team official as describing Ibanez by saying, “Character. Proven run producer.  In better shape than a lot of 25-year-olds.  And he’ll play hard every day, every game, every second he has the uniform on.”

In November, however, Rosenthal said Mets officials wanted to add ‘a right-handed bat,’ instead, adding, ‘The Mets are not high on Pat Burrell, and Ibanez is not an ideal fit.’

Quote: Cole Hamels says Mets are Choke Artists

Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels, when asked if the Phillies believe the Mets are ‘choke artists,’ said the following, during an interview with WFAN in New York today:

“Last year and this year we did believe that.  I think three years ago we didn’t, because they smoked everybody and I thought that was the year they would go to the World Series – and unfortunately that didn’t happen.  But, you know, that’s kind of what we believe and what we’re gonna always believe until they prove us wrong.  Yeah, over the last two years they’ve been choke artists.”

Darryl Strawberry, regarding Hamels’s quote, while co-hosting today on WFAN’s Mike’d Up, said:

“That’s sad… If we had a team say that about us – oh, no – they were gonna be in trouble… I mean, it would definitely be hard if, in the days us playing, if somebody said that, I mean, we’d have stuck one right in his neck.  We’d be fighting.  There’s no way any one would be allowed to disrespect us like that, and that is what has happened to the Phillies.”

Misc. Buzz: Phillies in Four-Way Deal

The Phillies are working with the Cubs, Padres and possibly the Orioles on a four-team deal, explains the Philadelphia Inquirer.

According to the report, “In a proposed multi-team trade, Mark DeRosa would go from the Cubs to the Phillies.  The Phillies would send the Cubs a prospect or two, which in turn could be sent to San Diego in a package for pitcher Jake Peavy.”

The Chicago Tribune writes, “The Jake Peavy-Cubs trade talks have reached a point where it will be a stunner if the Cubs don’t acquire Peavy.”

amBuzz: Peavy, Furcal, Moyer, A.J. CC and Tek

The Padres may have a third team to help facilitate a trade that could eventually send Jake Peavy to the Cubs, reports Yahoo!.

…just so long as jake doesn’t go to the Braves, gentlemen

The A’s are at the top of the list for Rafael Furcal, writes the Contra Costa Times, while SI.com says the Giants, Cubs, Dodgers, Braves, and a mystery team also remain involved.

Speaking of the A’s, they and other teams have asked the Nationals for Nick Johnson’s medical records, suggesting he could be traded, reports FoxSports.com.

lots of walks and lots of injuries, sounds like the A’s to me

Though it hasn’t happened yet, the Phillies are still expected to re-sign free-agent LHP Jamie Moyer, writes MLB.com.

The Blue Jays still feel there is a chance they will re-sign free-agent RHP A.J. Burnett, according to ESPN.com, even though they’ll have less to spend, as the Toronto Sun explains.

The Red Sox plan to offer salary arbitration to Jason Varitek, according to the Boston Herald.

…meaning he will cost two draft picks, if he signs with a new team

Lastly, the Yankees are skeptical of the Angels’ interest in free-agent RHP CC Sabathia, writes Jon Heyman at SI.com.

the idea being, the Angels are a) bidding up the price on the Yankees, while b) trying to spook Mark Teixeira in to re-signing, since reports continue suggest they can only afford one of the two

News: Ultey to have Hip Surgery

The Phillies have announced that Chase Utley will have hip surgery next week.

The recovery time is an estimated four to six months.

by my math, figuring time for rehab, etc., this could mean he misses the first month or so of the regular season

News: Marlins trade Olsen and Willingham to Nats

According to Peter Gammons at ESPN.com, the Marlins have traded OF Josh Willingham and LHP Scott Olsen to the Nationals for 2B Emilio Bonifacio and minor leaguers RHP P.J. Dean and OF Jake Smolinski.

Olsen was 8-11 with a 4.20 ERA in 33 starts for the Marlins, while Willingham hit .254 with 15 home runs.

Last month, in post to his blog for the Sun Sentinel, Mike Berardino listed seven players who could be traded by the Marlins, including 2B Dan Uggla and RHP Kevin Gregg, as well as Willingham and Olsen, and Mike Jacobs, who was recently traded to the Royals.

Blog: Philly, Fix My Car

The night the Phillies won the World Series, fans of the team flipped over Ted’s car – and he has since started a blog, at Philly, Fix My Car, to help raise money to either have the vehicle fixed or replaced.

way to stay classy, Philadelphia…

So far, Ted has raised $2,750.

i bet it was the Philly Phanatic…i blame him for everything

Ugh: Phillies win the World Series

Congratulations to the Philadelphia Phillies organization for winning the World Series.  Forgive me if I do not extent a kind word to their fans, except for Phil Cordano.

Nevertheless, the Phillies did a great job building a winning team, they play hard, they’re tough, resilient and I have to think most baseball fans, not focused on Queens, are happy for them.

Frankly, I didn’t watch a single pitch of the entire six-game series.  Judging by the ratings, I was not alone. 

I think the worst part of this entire thing is that, next season, not only will that pennant be waving in Citizens Bank Park, but the team will repeatedly be introduced as the World Champion Phillies – so get ready for 11 months of eye rolling.

Hopefully, the Mets use this as additional motivation.

By the way, if it wasn’t bad enough, not only did the Phillies win the World Series yesterday, but, on the same day, my wife booked a tour of Yankee Stadium with her family for this weekend and I have to go.

When is pitchers and catchers again?