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Utley feels confident about 2008 season

Utley feels confident about 2008 season

All-Star second baseman Chase Utley said during an online chat Thursday that he feels confident about the Phils' lineup and pitching staff for 2008. He said the NL East defending champion Phillies want to improve upon last season and bring a World Series championship to Philadelphia.

Chase Utley: Hey, guys, how's it going? Fire away.

xostephh88: What have you been up to this offseason?

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Utley: I took a month off after the season ended and relaxed. Took a trip to Hawaii and played a little golf. Got back to California and got back into my routine of working out four to five days a week.

xostephh88: Jimmy Rollins says 100 wins. What's your prediction?

Utley: Obviously, 100 wins is a great goal to have and if we can stay healthy, that would be attainable. But our ultimate goal is to improve on last year.

rbgcmont: Chase, how is your right hand? Even after you came back I thought it looked like you were playing hurt. Was that the case?

Utley: That was not the case. My hand felt 100 percent when I came back. I had the pin removed about a month ago and I have no pain whatsoever.

philliesxo: What do you like most about Philadelphia?

Utley: I enjoy the overall atmosphere in Philadelphia. The intensity that the fans bring to the ballpark every day is outstanding. And we play in a beautiful ballpark with a great fan base.

eastchamps: Do you believe the club is stronger coming into this season?

Utley: I do believe we are stronger. For one, we've had another year under our belts for the core of the team. Of course, there is always room for improvement. Our acquisition of Geoff Jenkins is very helpful, and getting Brett Myers back into the rotation and adding Brad Lidge will obviously help us.

goalie2on1: Why did you pick No. 26 to wear?

Utley: I didn't pick it. It was given to me by Frank Coppenbarger, our clubhouse manager. It was my second or third Spring Training and it was a lot better than No. 78 that I'd had the year before.

gochase: Honestly, how do you feel the Phillies compare to other teams in the National League East?

Utley: I feel very confident and I think you need that to succeed. We have a very strong lineup one through nine, and even some of our pitchers can hit. Having Cole Hamels and Brett at the top of the rotation is a bonus for us.

phillyphol: When is the World Series coming into Philadelphia?

Utley: The goal is 2008.

phanatic08: What was it like down the stretch last season?

Utley: It was extremely exciting. The fans came to the ballpark every day with a lot of intensity and we fed off that. Having the fans behind us gives us more energy. The more positive support we get, I think, the more successful we will be. It was an unbelievable experience.

nl_east_08: What is your favorite ballpark to play in besides Citizens Bank Park?

Utley: I'm a big fan of the old traditional ballparks. Fenway Park and Wrigley Field have a lot of character in them. I also love coming out to play at Dodger Stadium. Being from the West Coast, it's always nice to come back home.

gochase: What was your most memorable experience in the 2007 season?

Utley: After Brett's last pitch to Wily Mo Pena when the crowd was going wild. As a team, we were so excited to finally get over the hump. That's a memory I will never forget.

philsfan93: What is your best advice to a 13-year-old kid who wants to get better at baseball?

Utley: Work hard. Nothing is given to you in this game. If you don't work hard, it's that much harder to accomplish your goals.

dreamer26: What is your offseason workout is like?

Utley: It starts at 7 a.m. when my alarm goes off. I do an active warm-up stretch to wake my body up and then get into agility training. A lot of balance and core stuff are incorporated into that. Then I hit the weight room and concentrate on getting stronger. At the end, we do wrist rolls to make our hands stronger.

honnziva: You seem so even tempered on and off the field, have you ever been involved in a brawl at any level of your baseball career?

Utley: Yeah, actually I was. It was my first year in Triple-A when we were playing Columbus. Myers threw a ball closer to Drew Henson than he would have liked and a brawl broke out. It was mostly a shoving match, though.

philliesxo: Which series do you look forward to most every year?

Utley: I love good competition and I think the Mets have a good team, so I enjoy going to Shea Stadium. I also like going out west and experiencing California weather.

nl_east_08: Which current ballplayer do you admire the most?

Utley: I respect the heck out of Derek Jeter. He plays in a great sports city that is tough on their players and he handles it like a pro. On top of that, he's one of the best at his position.

morgandoxe: What is your favorite thing about Spring Training?

Utley: I just enjoy getting there and seeing my teammates after a few months off and meeting new ones.

honnziva: How much does not having an everyday player at third base affect the infield unit? Who, if you had the choice, would you love to see there to complete that infield?

Utley: I thought last year that Greg Dobbs and Wes Helms did a great job playing third base. Being that they hit from opposite sides of the plate, it gives [manager] Charlie [Manuel] options every day. They both work hard and they are great teammates.

26istheman: Mr. Utley, my name is Daniel. I am 8 years old. You are my favorite player. You are the best second baseman ever. I play second in Little League because you are my favorite player. I know you can win the MVP this year.

Utley: Thanks for the support. Keep working hard.

nowyoumust: Do you see yourself as a lifetime Phillie?

Utley: I do. That was the goal when I signed last year for seven years. My goal is be a Phillie now and be a Phillie for life.

phila24: Who is the toughest pitcher you have faced?

Utley: There are a lot of tough pitchers in the big leagues. I've probably had my least success off Dontrelle Willis. I'm sorry to see that he's in the American League (wink).

26istheman: If you didn't play second base, where else would you like playing?

Utley: I think playing in center field would be a lot of fun.

nl_east_08: Who did you admire the most as a baseball player growing up?

Utley: When I really started being successful in baseball, I started watching Jim Thome when he was with the Indians. It was great having him as a teammate for a couple years. I learned a lot from him both on and off the field.

raizin: Do you have any superstitions?

Utley: None that I can reveal to the public.

pphan1210: You hit an incredible .372 at Citizens Bank Park last season. Is there anything other than the short fences that makes you so comfortable playing there?

Utley: I think any hitter would tell you that they feel comfortable hitting in their own ballpark. It's like sleeping in your own bed at night, rather than a hotel bed.

raizin: Who is the loudest player in the Phillies clubhouse?

Utley: It would probably be Jimmy Rollins' stereo.

nl_east_08: Chase, are you a fan of any other sports? If so, what are your favorite teams?

Utley: I like golf. Obviously, Tiger Woods is above and beyond everyone else. As far as football, I have to stick with my Eagles. Go Birds!

ballfreak86: What city do you most enjoy traveling to during the season and why?

Utley: I'd have to say Los Angeles because it's where I grew up and it's great to get to see my family and friends after not seeing them for a while.

gochase: If you could only have one goal to accomplish this season, what would it be?

Utley: If there was only one goal to attain this year, it would be to be a World Series champion.

Utley: Thanks everybody. This was cool. We'll see you at the Bank this year!

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