Utley plays second base for first time this spring

Second baseman feels good in four innings of defensive action

Utley plays second base for first time this spring

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Chase Utley took another step forward in the Phillies' 6-3 loss to the Blue Jays at Bright House Field on Saturday, playing four innings at second base -- his first defensive action all spring.

Utley only had to make one play, snagging a line drive by Jose Reyes to lead off the third inning, but he said after exiting the game that he felt good.

"It went well. Played four innings, didn't have a whole lot of action, but it went well," Utley said. "Just trying to get some defensive reps. Today was a good start."

Utley isn't sure what his schedule looks like the rest of the way. With more than two weeks to get ready for Opening Day, the Phillies likely will gradually increase the number of innings he plays at second per game.

"I don't necessarily see playing every single day from here on out, but trying to just, take baby steps in a smart way," Utley said.

"Good to see him out on the field," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg added. "That's a step in the right direction as far as him saying that he's ready to play the field."

Utley, who sprained his right ankle in January, seems to have no issues running the bases. He ran hard from second base, turned the corner at third and slid home safely in the fourth inning of Saturday's game.

"So far, so good," Utley said. "The last few games, I've been on the bases, and I've had to pump it up a little bit, and it's been fine."

Around the horn
• Right-hander Chad Billingsley, working back from surgery to repair the flexor tendon in his right arm, threw 18 pitches in one inning during a Minor League game at the Carpenter Complex. Billingsley gave up two hits and struck out one batter.

• Before Saturday's game, the Phillies optioned catcher Tommy Joseph to Minor League camp. Joseph, brought over in the Hunter Pence trade in 2012, went 2-for-13 in five Grapefruit League games.

The Phillies now have 44 players in big league camp, including 15 non-roster invitees.

• Outfielder Jeff Francoeur (oblique soreness) is scheduled to get back on the field Sunday for the first time since March 12, playing right field against the Red Sox at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.

• The Phillies honored more than 30 former players, coaches and executives during a pregame Alumni Day ceremony Saturday afternoon. Darren Daulton threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Larry Bowa.

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.