Utley excited about Phils' acquisitions

At home with ... Chase Utley

For Phillies All-Star second baseman Chase Utley, the baseball offseason is just as exciting to him as it is to all other fans. Utley routinely checks out the transaction wire and keeps up to date on the Internet on the comings and goings of all 30 clubs during the winter.

Obviously, he pays particular attention to the Phillies and has liked all the moves that general manager Pat Gillick has made since the 2006 season ended.

"I pay attention every day," Utley told phillies.com recently from his home in the Los Angeles area. "It's been exciting. [Right-hander Freddy] Garcia is going to be a tremendous help for us. He knows how to win, and that's very important for us as a team and our pitching staff."

Garcia was acquired by the Phillies at the Winter Meetings in a trade with the White Sox, who received right-hander Gavin Floyd and left-hander Gio Gonzalez in the deal. Earlier in the offseason, Gillick added right-hander Adam Eaton to the pitching staff, giving the Phillies one of the deepest rotations in the National League.

Utley also liked the offensive additions of infielder Wes Helms and outfielder Jayson Werth.

"I've seen Helms a lot the past few years, and every time he's played against us, he's done well," Utley said. "He had a great season [for the Marlins] and if he has more playing time, he'll be a big help to us."

Utley hasn't spent all his offseason on the Internet, though. Far from it. In October, he had the opportunity to tour Japan -- along with teammate and National League MVP Ryan Howard -- as part of Major League Baseball's touring All-Star team. The U.S. team shut out the Japan team, 4-0, in the best-of-seven series.

"Japan was a lot of fun," Utley said. "Just going over there and seeing their culture was a pretty cool experience. The Japanese fans were very nice and very respectful. It was cool to see."

As far as the differences between the styles of play, Utley noticed from the outset that things in the Far East are a little more traditional than they are in America.

"It was different," he said. "They don't have too many home run hitters, so they're based around pitching and defense. All of their players can fly, even their big guys can run a little bit. That was the main difference."

Howard had a monstrous week offensively in Japan and was named the series MVP. Utley lockers near Howard in the Phillies' clubhouse, so he gets an up-close look at the slugging first baseman's media demands on a daily basis. Just like in the U.S., Howard was nothing but gracious and accommodating in dealing with the press in Japan.

"I got a few questions, but he handled himself pretty well," said Utley. "He got a lot of attention. A lot was asked of him, and he did a good job taking care of everybody."

After returning home in early November, Utley went straight to his normal offseason routine of working out every day. His day consists of waking up at 8 a.m. and getting back to his new condo -- which he shares with his fiancée, Jen -- around 1:30 in the afternoon. He does this four days a week, which doesn't leave time for many other activities.

"I've golfed probably five times since I've been back, which is not enough," Utley joked. "Right now, though, it's time to get ready for the season."

Greg Casterioto works for the Phillies. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.