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With Utley out, Phillies acquire Iguchi

With Utley out, Phillies acquire Iguchi

PHILADELPHIA -- Within hours of Chase Utley's pin insertion into his broken right hand, the Phillies made a move to insert a new second baseman.

In a rapid turnaround, Philadelphia acquired Tadahito Iguchi from the White Sox for Minor League right-hander Michael Dubee. Iguchi, 32, is expected to arrive in time for Saturday's game against Pittsburgh, and will help fill the void left by Utley, who underwent surgery earlier in the day and could miss three to six weeks.

"We wanted to do something and wanted to move quickly," assistant general manager Mike Arbuckle said. "Obviously, you don't replace Chase Utley, but we wanted the guys in clubhouse to understand that we wanted to step up and come up with a suitable replacement to help us stay competitive."

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Of the potential second-base acquisitions -- Mark Loretta and Mark Grudzielanek to name two -- the Phillies viewed Iguchi as the most attractive. He's expected to get the bulk of the playing time in Utley's absence, is viewed as a solid defender and a good situational hitter.

The Phillies found a fit with the White Sox, who are seeking to find more playing time for rookie Danny Richar and free up some money. The free-agent-to-be will earn $3.25 million this season.

White Sox general manager Kenny Williams said he called Phillies GM Pat Gillick on Thursday night after watching "SportsCenter" and seeing Utley's injury. By 4 p.m. ET on Friday, after approximately six phone calls, the Phillies had a new second baseman. Manager Charlie Manuel said Iguchi will likely hit second.

"I'm very shocked," Iguchi said thought interpreter David Yamamoto. "I've spent two and a half seasons here. I wanted to stay in Chicago. I had no idea something like this was going to happen. On the other hand, it's a great feeling that there's a team out there that has a need for me. I'm really honored."

Iguchi said he wasn't sure what to expect in a new city. Other than the White Sox's trip here last month in Interleague Play, Iguchi doesn't know the area. He takes comfort in having won a World Series with Aaron Rowand in 2005 and having played with Ryan Howard this fall on a barnstorming tour through Japan.

"It's very comforting knowing that I know a few people there," said Iguchi.

"He's great," Rowand said. "He's a really great guy, fun to be around in the clubhouse. We've had some good times with the language barrier, but he's one heck of a player. He's smooth in the field. He'll add to the team and make it a lot easier with Chase being out."

Iguchi was hitting .251 with six homers and 31 RBIs in 90 games this season. A native of Tokyo, Japan, Iguchi batted .281 last season with 18 homers and 67 RBIs in 138 games. He spent eight seasons with the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League, where he was a four-time All-Star and won three Gold Gloves as a second baseman.

Manuel joked that he's the only one who can communicate with "Gooch," who speaks little English. The Phillies manager, who has a distinct way of speaking in English, is fluent in Japanese, having played there for six seasons.

Asked if Manuel's Virginian accent will rub off on Iguchi, he said, "When he goes back to Japan, they'll call him Hakushyon [pronounced Hack shaw]. That means 'Country.'"

The move shifts Abraham Nunez back into a utility role. Because the Phillies were able to fill a huge need without giving up a major bargaining chip, they have more to deal for the starting pitcher they are still seeking. They have sent scouts to look at Toronto's Josh Towers and Houston's Woody Williams, as well as relievers Brad Lidge, Chad Qualls and Dan Wheeler. The Astros are believed to be interested in Houston native Michael Bourn.

Dubee, 22, was 4-4 with one save and a 3.88 ERA in 30 relief appearances for Class A Lakewood. The last name should sound familiar: He's the son of the Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee.

"Pat sat me down," the elder Dubee said. "He said, 'We made a trade for a second baseman. We got Iguchi.' I said, 'Great.' He said, 'We traded your son.' I said, 'Well, you made a hell of a deal.' But it's OK. If this guy can come over and help us win a pennant and get to the World Series, I'll give Michael some of the playoff share."

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["trading_deadline" ] }
{"content":["trading_deadline" ] }