Sunday, March 06, 2011

Odds & Ends

In its inimitable fashion the Phillies' front office is preparing us for more bad news on Chase Utley. "Normal soreness" gave way to resting him which in turn gave way to a cortisone shot which in turn gave way to suggestions of "other concerns" that might require surgery. The only professional sport that is more evasive in describing injuries is the entire NHL which loves the phrase "lower body injury" for anything below the waist. A hockey player could have a compound fracture with bones protruding in six directions and the league would call it a "lower body injury"!

By comparison, the NFL publishes nearly daily updates for all manner of injuries and ailments with buzzwords like "probable" or "questionable" attached. Of course, the betting on NFL games is such big business, condoned, no make that encouraged and supported by the league, that the impact of individual players on the betting line is deemed too financially critical to withhold information.

Back to the Phillies, any prolonged absence of Utley would be disastrous in an of itself, and the hand injury to Domonic Brown in yesterday's pre-season game doesn't help matters. Brown's struggles thus far this March strongly suggested he would not be the starting right-fielder, but the prospect of surgery and a 3-6 week recovery precludes his availability at a time when the Phils' offense remains the most suspect facet of their overall game, the bullpen being a close second. (As a side note, the rush to judgment on Brown's long-term prospects has no place in legitimate discussions but surely would find a place in Las Vegas.)

Now management is faced with looking for as many as two replacements. The good news is the games don't count yet; the bad news is they will soon enough and there aren't a lot of top-quality players out there to fill the gap(s). There will be some movement of players at the end of Spring Training. The odds that Joe Blanton will be one of them are increasing daily.

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