Utley homers twice for Phillies in 4-4 tie with Tigers
CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) Chase Utley hit his first two home runs of spring training and drove in three runs for the Philadelphia Phillies in a 4-4 tie against the Detroit Tigers on Sunday.
The 36-year-old missed the first 10 games of the exhibition season after spraining his right ankle in January. He hit a two-run homer in the first off Anibal Sanchez and connected again on the first pitch of the fourth.
''I think he was (waiting) for the curveball,'' Sanchez said. ''I threw him two curveballs and he hit them pretty good. He's a pretty good hitter. ... He was ready for it.''
Utley is hitting .441 (15 for 34) during the regular season against Sanchez with no home runs. He's batting .423 (11-for-26) in 10 games this spring training.
''Chase swung the bat very well,'' Philadelphia manager Ryne Sandberg said. ''He went down yesterday and took advantage of some at-bats on the minor league side and actually hit a home run down there and carried that over to today. ... It hasn't taken him too long but he looks like he's pretty sharp.''
Sanchez struck out 10 and walked one in six innings, allowing all four runs and five hits. Philadelphia's Aaron Harang gave up four runs - three earned - and five hits in 5 1-3 innings with five strikeouts and two walks.
Tigers: In six games this spring training, Sanchez has struck out 26 with six walks in 24 2-3 innings. Five of his 10 strikeouts on Sunday came with batters looking at strike three.
''That means he's hitting his spots,'' Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said.
Phillies: Right-hander Aaron Harang made his penultimate exhibition season start and follows Cole Hamels in the rotation when the season begins next week. Harang allowed home runs to Tyler Collins and Yoenis Cespedes in the span of three batters in the fourth inning.
''Obviously there were a few pitches you want back but other than that I felt good, was making pitches when I needed to,'' Harang said. ''Everything feels good.''
Tigers: Right-hander Justin Verlander (right triceps cramp) played light catch on Sunday, two days after leaving his start after 2 2-3 innings with tightness. ''He said he felt a little better today,'' Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. The Tigers are still uncertain if Verlander will make his scheduled start on Thursday.
Phillies: Third baseman Cody Asche (back) missed his fourth straight big league game but saw action in the minor league complex in Clearwater. Asche was slotted into the designated hitter's spot in an intrasquad minor league game and went 2 for 4 with a double. Left fielder Domonic Brown (left Achilles tendinitis) missed his 10th straight game. He took regular batting practice with his teammates prior to Sunday's game, but is likely to begin the season on the disabled list.
Tigers: Detroit and Alfredo Simon host Atlanta and Mike Foltynewicz in a matchup of right-handers.
Phillies: Philadelphia travels to Bradenton to play Pittsburgh on Monday. Right-handed pitching prospect Zach Eflin has been summoned from minor league camp to make the start, opposite right-hander Adrian Sampson.
HAMELS THE ONE: As expected, Ryne Sandberg said Cole Hamels will start the April 6 opener against Boston. It's the second opening day assignment of Hamels career and first since 2013. Cliff Lee started the opener last year, when Hamels was slowed by biceps tendinitis.
CUTS: Right-handers Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and Hector Neris were optioned by Philadelphia to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, and catcher Koyie Hill, infielders Chris McGuiness and Chris Nelson and right-hander Paul Clemens were reassigned to minor league camp.