Saturday, March 28, 2009

Utley, Feliz to Be Ready for Opening Day

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel announced earlier this week that second baseman Chase Utley and third baseman Pedro Feliz should both be ready for opening day.

Utley had surgery on his right hip on Nov. 24, and Feliz had back surgery a few days before that.

Utley originally was feared to be out for as much as the first two months of the regular season, but he made quicker-than-expected progress in his rehabilitation.

This is obviously very good news for the Phils.

In addition to having the best offensive second baseman in the game's production for the entire season, and Feliz's defense at the hot corner, it really just makes the Phils' entire lineup a lot deeper.

Jayson Werth likely would have been moved up to Utley's third spot in the batting order, but now Manuel can keep Werth hitting either fifth or sixth depending on whether the opposing starter is a lefthander or a righthander.

Werth and Raul Ibanez will be counted on to protect Utley and Ryan Howard.

Feliz and his 15-20 homers will fit nicely in the No. 7 hole.

This also likely means Miguel Cairo and Marcus Giles, both non-roster invitees to spring training, will not be on the opening day 25-man roster.

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