Phillies' Utley pleased with debut

CLEARWATER — Chase Utley has yet to appear on the daily Phillies medical report so loathed by Charlie Manuel. The blue step stool used as an aid for fielding ground balls remains in a closet. There are no secret trips to knee specialists.

"To be honest," Utley said, "I forgot what a normal spring training schedule is."

That will happen when three years pass between Grapefruit League appearances. Nothing else mattered for these Phillies, who opened with a lackluster 8-3 loss to Houston. Utley sprinted from the home dugout, Led Zeppelin played when he batted, and three innings served as the first validation for his new training program.

Utley smacked the first pitch he saw from Astros RHP Lucas Harrell up the middle for an RBI single in the first inning. He went from first base to third on a Ryan Howard groundout to second base. He flied out to center in the third inning. At second base, he fielded one pop-up.

"It was exciting," Utley said. "It was a good first step."

Utley was the only starting player to leave after three innings. He will rest his chronically injured knees today then play Monday.

Yanks: Step for Jeter

TAMPA — Yankees captain Derek Jeter practiced onfield running and agility drills for the first time since breaking his ankle last fall.

Jeter worked out at Steinbrenner Field on Saturday with players who didn't travel for the Yankees' spring training opener against the Braves.

"It's a natural progression, but everything went good," Jeter said. "It went fine."

Jeter has been hitting and fielding grounders since the Yankees started full-squad workouts Monday. He had been running and stretching indoors.

"It's really nothing much different than what I was doing," Jeter said. "I was just at a different pace than everyone else. So while they're doing one thing, I don't want to be doing something else."

GAME DETAILS: 2B Robinson Cano and minor-league OF Zoilo Almonte homered for New York in its 8-3 victory over Atlanta in Kissimmee.

Jays: Scary collision

LAKELAND — It was the type of play that can certainly happen in these early spring games, when fielders may not be all that used to each other.

Toronto OFs Mike McCoy and Ryan Langerhans were shaken up after colliding on a flyball in the seventh inning of a 10-3 win over the Tigers.

Langerhans stayed in. McCoy got up and was able to walk toward the clubhouse with a left quad contusion.

"I think we must have called it at the same time. I called it, I think three or four times, and kind of slowed up," Langerhans said. "I never heard Mike call it, and he said he called it, so we must have called it at the same time."

With the bases loaded, Detroit's Jeff Kobernus lifted a fly to medium right-center. McCoy came over from centerfield, and just as the ball arrived, he ran into Langerhans, who was playing right. They both stayed down for a bit, and other Toronto fielders quickly went out to check on them.

"I finished calling it and then kind of started hearing the footsteps coming pretty quick," Langerhans said. "It was kind of one of those 'uh-oh, brace for impact' deals."

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Phillies' Utley pleased with debut 02/23/13 [Last modified: Saturday, February 23, 2013 9:38pm]

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