CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Much has been made about the Phillies offense over the last several months.
Can they hit more consistently? Can they produce in the postseason?
It would help tremendously if Chase Utley played like his former self. But after battling knee problems last year, he had the most disappointing season of his career, hitting .259 with 11 home runs, 59 RBIs and a .769 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. The Phillies are hopeful a modified offseason training program will allow Utley to keep the lower half of his body strong, which could help bring back his power.
They also plan to cut back his Spring Training work to keep him as fresh as possible during the six-month regular-season schedule.
"He says right now he feels fine, he feels OK," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said Sunday at Bright House Field. "At the same time, our plans for him aren't to take him out there and let him take off and do a big strenuous workout. I think we have time to slowly let him go his pace, cut [back] his ground balls as he progresses and we feel like he's fine and he's got his strength, and that's when he'll tune it up and play more.
"The first [part] of Spring Training, don't look for him to play a whole lot, because we'll definitely monitor him and kind of ease him into it. I think that's very important."