Utley Not Thinking About Trade Rumors

The non-waiver trade deadline passed this past Friday, but teams can still wheel and deal. The catch is that the players involved have to pass through waivers. Sometimes, players get through and sometimes, they don't. The scenario becomes even trickier with Chase Utley, who can veto any deal the Phillies might work out.

Chase Utley found himself on the DL when the July 31st trade deadline came and went. As he approaches a return, there are swirling rumors that Utley could be dealt during August in a waiver deal that would land him with a contending team, possibly giving him a shot at another World Series ring. The Chicago Cubs are the top suitor right now, but other teams may be lurking as potential suitors.

For the first time since he hit the DL with ankle inflammation, Utley was playing in a game, serving as the Designated Hitter, batting third for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Utley went 2-for-3 in the game with a walk, meeting his goal of getting in four at-bats.

"I tried to create some timing. Sometimes I did, so there was progress, which is good," said Utley about his approach coming into the game.

As for the ankle, Utley said that it feels better than it has all season and he's seeing a lot of good signs that make him believe the injury is no longer an issue.

"One, I definitely feel a difference. Two, I'm not thinking about it, so that's definitely helpful," said Utley, who hit just .179 with the Phillies prior to being placed on the DL.

Right now, making sure he's healthy and getting his swing back are at the forefront of Utley's mind, but he is certainly aware that there is the possibility he will need to make a decision at some point on whether or not he would accept a deal to another team as the Phillies look to rebuild.

"I try not to pay too much attention, obviously. I have friends that send me stuff all the time, but my whole goal is to get healthy and get back to the big leagues," said Utley, 36, when asked about the rumors of a trade.

In addition to the Cubs, the Angels have been mentioned as a potential landing spot for Utley, who is originally from California. He is owed approximately $5-million over the rest of the season, but the Phillies would likely be willing to chip in on that bill if they received a player they liked in exchange. Utley would need 251 at-bats over the rest of the season to kick in a vesting option for 2016 that would pay him an additional $15-million, so it's unlikely that a team acquiring Utley would have to worry about any long-term commitments.

The plan now is for Utley to take Monday off and then play for the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils Tuesday and Wednesday in Trenton. What comes after that is anybody's guess. The Phillies have a three-game series at home against the Dodgers starting Tuesday night and then head to San Diego, Arizona and Milwaukee.

Get more on Chase Utley's first rehab game with Lehigh Valley, from our sister site, PhillyBaseballBlog.com.

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