By PATRICK GORDON | Managing Editor
April 6, 2014, 9:30 a.m.
Numbers can be misleading, especially when looking at small sample sizes. With that said, you can't help but feel good about Chase Utley's production over the first five games of the season.
In 23 plate appearances he's struck out just once and enters Sunday hitting .476 with a pair of home runs.
"He looks good," Ryne Sandberg said following Utley's 3-for-3 performance in Sunday's 2-0 win over the Cubs. "He's feeling good. He's in great shape. Quality at-bats right now. On base four times, scored two runs. He's very healthy. He looks good."
The 35-year-old missed considerable time over the past three years dealing with a degenerative knee condition. Last year he played in 131 games but never truly looked like the four-time All Star he was earlier in his career.
Sure, age had something to do with his falling production, but knee issues were also a significant contributor in his steep decline.
To this point, it looks like he feels comfortable on the diamond again.
- Cole Hamels, rehabbing from bicep tendinitis, is expected to pitch today for single-A Clearwater. He's expected to make three more starts before joining the Phillies in late April. The current plan has him making his first start of the season on April 29 against the Mets.
- Reliever Jake Diekman pitched a scoreless eighth on Saturday and has now pitched in four of the Phillies five contests this season.
- Top prospect Maikel Franco is hitting just .167 (2-for-12) over his first three games with triple-A Lehigh Valley.