PHILADELPHIA -- Charlie Manuel wouldn't say for sure that Chase Utley would play third base before season's end. But the Phillies' manager did say he would have no problem penciling Utley's name in the lineup card there if the five-time All-Star second baseman was ready.
"When he's ready to play there, I'll put him there," Manuel said before Wednesday's game against the Nationals. "I have no problem with that. I think that he's earned the right to have a say about it and things like that. That's kind of how I see it."
Utley worked out at the hot corner yet again on Wednesday afternoon. With first-base coach Sam Perlozzo instructing him, Utley fielded ground balls hit by Ryne Sandberg and threw them to Jesus Tiamo, the Phillies' bullpen catcher, standing at first base. Perlozzo and bat boy Rob DiClementi then acted as baserunners to simulate an in-game situation.
"[Utley] looked pretty good," Manuel said. "When he's ready, he'll come and talk to me."
The Phillies will be eliminated from postseason contention with any combination of three losses or Cardinals wins, so there is a chance Utley plays third base sometime over the season's final seven games.
Manuel said the biggest challenge for Utley is just getting used to the new position.
"I think that he reacts real well," Manuel said. "When I see him throw, his arm's definitely strong enough. It's no problem. I think it's just a matter of what he wants to do."