With injuries and changing roles on the pitching staff, manager Larry Bowa is toying with the idea of carrying 11 pitchers. That would mean that both Nick Punto and Jason Michaels who were fighting for the final spot on the roster could make the team. Again, here's where the injury factor comes in, because Michaels will start the season on the DL. That combined with the fact that Utley has done everything to raise his stock this spring could mean a part-time job for the young secondbaseman.
Throughout the organization, from Ed Wade and Mike Arbuckle, to Larry Bowa, John Vukovich and Greg Gross, the thought is that Utley would make the most of the opportunity and that it might even be good for him. "I don't think he'd be stunted by it. If he ends up sticking, he'll make the most of it," Wade told The Philadelphia Daily News.
With Placido Polanco starting at second and one rookie – Marlon Byrd – already in the lineup, the Phillies probably don't want to push Utley into a starting job. The fact remains though that an emerging Utley could be helpful if anything were to happen to Polanco, including the possibility of a trade elsewhere if the Phillies find that they need to improve their pitching staff down the road. With Utley getting at least a taste of the majors, the eventual adjustment might not be quite as harsh.
Perhaps, the bigger question will come when Michaels and/or Duckworth are healthy. When Duckworth comes back, the pitching staff might expand to 12 since Joe Roa is out of options and when Michaels is healthy, the debate about adding him to the 25 man roster will start again. At that point, Utley could simply drive north on the Turnpike and find himself back at Scranton. What if Polanco is struggling though and Utley has shown some further progress? The bottom line is that it could be interesting to see who winds up where when the walking wounded return.