Utley 'excited' to play behind Halladay

Utley 'excited' to play behind Halladay

PHILADELPHIA -- It is about this time every year that Chase Utley starts getting antsy for Spring Training.

He spent the early part of his offseason moving from Southern California to San Francisco, so his wife Jen could be closer to her family. He vacationed a couple times in Mexico. He went to Jimmy Rollins' wedding in the Cayman Islands. But just a couple weeks ago, he picked up a bat, and when that happens, he knows Clearwater, Fla., is not far away.

Utley met with Phillies beat writers Monday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park, and touched on a variety of topics.

On landing Roy Halladay at the expense of trading Cliff Lee: "[Halladay is] one of the best pitchers in baseball. I've heard a lot of good things about him. Everybody I've talked to who's played with him or against him has nothing but good things to say about him. His preparation is off the charts. I'm excited to see him work.

"Cliff Lee, I had a good time playing behind Cliff. Obviously, he pitched outstanding. Hopefully at some point I get to play with him again. But it's a business. We all realize this now. Every year there are new faces in the clubhouse no matter what."

On if he would have rather seen the Phillies take a shot to win the World Series with Halladay and Lee in the same rotation, and not worry about restocking the farm system for the future: "Yeah, anytime you can get the best pitchers in baseball on your team, you would want that. But I trust what the front office does. In my opinion, they've done a very good job since I've been here of getting good players and good people in the clubhouse. And I think that's the reason we've been very successful. I trust what they do."

On if a little more rest during the regular season would be beneficial: "It might be beneficial on occasion, but it's difficult. You want to play. We all want to be out there every single day, no matter if you're feeling good or bad. Before I gave [manager] Charlie [Manuel] a hard time when he wanted to give me a day off. Now I might not give him as hard a time. We'll see. We'll see how it plays out."

On anything he could do to avoid wearing down, if he continues to play every day: "It's a learning process. It's trying to figure out stuff that works for you. Last year, I did a lot of stuff for my hip, just to keep it going and keep it strong and keep it loose. I imagine I'll do those types of activities. I might be more active in the weight room. Again, you have to figure out what works for you. The last thing I want to be is weaker because I lifted weights that day."

On Placido Polanco's arrival: "We were here kind of platooning a few years ago. Him being the veteran guy, I guess if he really wanted to, he could have made the situation kind of uncomfortable for me. But he didn't do that at all. He was extremely helpful, trying to help me get better. Telling me things that might help me out. He wants to win. That's a great quality to have. I think everybody has a similar mind-set in this clubhouse. We've been to two World Series. We obviously want to get back to a third, but it's not going to be easy. We've got to start over from scratch again and stay healthy."

On if he thinks this team is better than the team that played the Yankees in the 2009 World Series: "You never know how it's going to pan out. But I do think on paper, we have a pretty good team, maybe slightly better than last year."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.