PHILADELPHIA -- Charlie Manuel wouldn't say for sure that Chase Utley would play third base before season's end. But the Phillies' manager did say he would have no problem penciling Utley's name in the lineup card there if the five-time All-Star second baseman was ready.
"When he's ready to play there, I'll put him there," Manuel said before Wednesday's game against the Nationals. "I have no problem with that. I think that he's earned the right to have a say about it and things like that. That's kind of how I see it."
Utley worked out at the hot corner yet again on Wednesday afternoon. With first-base coach Sam Perlozzo instructing him, Utley fielded ground balls hit by Ryne Sandberg and threw them to Jesus Tiamo, the Phillies' bullpen catcher, standing at first base. Perlozzo and bat boy Rob DiClementi then acted as baserunners to simulate an in-game situation.
"[Utley] looked pretty good," Manuel said. "When he's ready, he'll come and talk to me."
The Phillies will be eliminated from postseason contention with any combination of three losses or Cardinals wins, so there is a chance Utley plays third base sometime over the season's final seven games.
Manuel said the biggest challenge for Utley is just getting used to the new position.
"I think that he reacts real well," Manuel said. "When I see him throw, his arm's definitely strong enough. It's no problem. I think it's just a matter of what he wants to do."
Halladay on track to start Saturday vs. Marlins
PHILADELPHIA -- Roy Halladay is expected to start as scheduled Saturday against the Marlins in Miami.
Halladay struggled through the second-shortest start of his career Saturday against the Braves at Citizens Bank Park. He cited spasms in the back of his right shoulder as a culprit, only adding to his list of frustrations this season. But after throwing 32 pitches in a bullpen session Wednesday, Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee pronounced Halladay ready to go.
"Right now, absolutely," Dubee said. "Unless he has some type of setback, if the spasms came back or whatever. But today was very encouraging."
Dubee said Halladay, who spent time on the disabled list earlier this season with a strained right latissimus dorsi, looked like a completely different pitcher than the one that lasted just 1 2/3 innings against the Braves.
He reiterated if there is no risk of injury and Halladay wants to pitch, Halladay should pitch.
"This guy is super accountable," Dubee said. "He feels like he should carry his end of the bargain. And he has. First of all, he came back faster than we expected from the injury with one rehab start. Second of all, there are a lot of guys in this game that wouldn't have come back as early -- if come back -- period. They would have just laid down for the year, and this guy wasn't about to lay down.
"This is the top of accountability. He isn't happy with his season. He came here to win, and he feels like he didn't hold up his end of the bargain. I think he's held up more than his end of the bargain just coming back from the injury that he came back from. But he's going to do anything he can to come back next year. He is open minded, and we're going to put together a program that hopefully is going to fix all this."
Dubee said Halladay had no symptoms of the spasms that derailed him Saturday. He also said it wasn't the first time he had them this season.
"You guys don't know half of what goes on," he said. "He's fought this from time to time. He's fought this at different times in his career, too. Why stuff crops up, who knows?"
Dubee said he hasn't placed Halladay on a pitch count Saturday. Like always, he will let the flow of the game dictate how long he pitches.
Chooch setting career highs despite injury
PHILADELPHIA -- Back to being a regular in the Phillies' lineup after missing time with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, Carlos Ruiz is closing in on another milestone.
Ruiz, who hit a key three-run home run in Tuesday's 6-3 win over the Nationals, entered Wednesday with 114 hits, three shy of setting a new career high. Despite missing five weeks, the All-Star catcher has already set career highs in home runs (16), RBIs (65), runs scored (53) and extra-base hits (45) this season.
"Chooch has had without a doubt, from an offensive standpoint, his best season as far as staying consistent with the bat," manager Charlie Manuel said. "His batting average [.327] proves it. He's hit balls all over the field. ... He's been consistent, very consistent, and that's good. He's kind of like a complete player now."
Ruf's sister can't contain news of his homer
PHILADELPHIA -- Darin Ruf had about 50 text messages on his phone following Tuesday's memorable debut at Citizens Bank Park, where he homered in the second inning for his first big league hit in his first big league start.
He talked to his family in Nebraska after the game.
Ruf said they were at dinner for his brother C.J.'s birthday. His father, Bill, had DVR'd the game, so he told everybody to keep quiet until he could go home and watch the game in the quiet. But Ruf's sisters Khrista and Amy kept getting text messages telling them Ruf had homered.
They couldn't contain themselves.
"I can't keep it in any longer! Darin hit a home run!" one of his sisters announced to the table.
"My dad was like, 'No! You're not supposed to say that,'" Darin recalled with a chuckle.
Ruf was back in the lineup Wednesday, playing left field and hitting seventh.
The Phillies entered Wednesday's game having won seven of their last eight games against the first-place Nationals after losing nine of the previous 10 meetings.
Philadelphia's bullpen lowered its ERA to 3.95 in Tuesday night's 6-3 victory. That's a big improvement for a relief corps that ranked 15th in the National League with a 4.76 pre-All-Star break ERA.
Jimmy Rollins entered Wednesday needing three runs for his sixth career 100-run season and first since 2009. Ed Delahanty (eight), Sam Thompson (eight), Mike Schmidt (seven), Billy Hamilton (six) and Bobby Abreu (six ) are the only other Phillies to record more seasons with 100-plus runs.
The Philadelphia chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America presented the winners of its annual Phillies franchise awards before Wednesday's game against the Nationals. Carlos Ruiz was honored with the Mike Schmidt Most Valuable Player Award, while Cole Hamels won the Steve Carlton Most Valuable Pitcher Award. Rollins won the Dallas Green Special Achievement Award, and Juan Pierre won the Tug McGraw True Pro Award.