Sports

Utley may miss first month of season

Three-time All-Star Chase Utley, who anchored the middle of the lineup for the World Series champion Phillies, will have surgery and might not be ready for the start of the 2009 regular season.

Utley will have surgery next week to repair any bone or cartilage damage he may have in his right hip. He will be able to begin baseball activity in three to four months. But depending on the extent of the damage, full recovery could take until May, team officials said Thursday.

"Our feeling is that he's going to be fairly close to ready if not ready by opening day," General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "We fully expect to have Chase Utley with us for the bulk of the season."

Utley was bothered by symptoms during the season but still hit .292 and led all second basemen with 33 home runs and 104 RBI. While his season numbers were impressive, Utley started the season sharp before tailing off in the last four months.

Trainer Scott Sheridan said Utley thought the injury might have occurred while he trained during the last off-season.

"He had some symptoms in spring training, he had some symptoms in July," Sheridan said. "It was really on and off throughout the season."

■ Phillies third baseman Pedro Feliz had surgery Thursday on his back. Feliz spent 26 days on the disabled list last season with a lower back injury. The operation will be followed by an eight-to-12 week rehabilitation program.

Feliz hit .249 with 14 homers and 58 RBI after joining the Phillies as a free agent before the season.

Mussina retires

Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina walked away from baseball Thursday after his only 20-win season, a month shy of his 40th birthday and with a still-potent right arm.

"I don't have any regrets with what I decided. This is the right time," Mussina said.

Mussina finished 270-153 with a 3.68 ERA in 18 seasons with Baltimore and New York. A thinking man's pitcher who relied on sharp control, he ranks 32nd on the career wins list and 19th in strikeouts with 2,813.

Mussina never won a Cy Young Award or a World Series championship. But on his last day as a big-leaguer, he pitched six shutout innings at Fenway Park to beat Boston and wind up 20-9, making him the oldest first-time 20-game winner ever.

"It was a nice way to finish," he said.

As for what's next, "I don't really have any plans," he said.

Kentuckian closeto deal with Cards

Looking to fill one of their most pressing off-season needs, the Cardinals were close to a contract agreement with left-handed reliever Trever Miller.

The deal was likely to be finalized Friday. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Thursday that Miller came to the city for a physical and met with team doctors, but a deal had not been completed.

The 35-year-old Miller, a Louisville native and Trinity graduate, was 2-0 with a 4.15 ERA and two saves in 68 games last season for the AL champion Tampa Bay Rays, holding left-handed hitters to a .209 average in 91 at-bats.

The Rays declined a $2 million contract option earlier this month, electing to pay a $400,000 buyout.

Miller has made at least 60 appearances in each of the past six seasons.

Magrane gets new TV gig

Former Rowan County pitcher Joe Magrane has a new broadcast home: the MLB Network.

The former player and Rays announcer will be part of the MLB Tonight and Hot Stove on-air teams. MLB Network is set to launch on January 1, 2009, in about 50 million homes.

Magrane had a 10-year major-league career. He finished third in the 1987 NL Rookie of the Year voting, helping lead the Cardinals to the World Series.

Sabathia's deadline

CC Sabathia will have a deadline to accept the Yankees' contract proposal.

"We've made him an offer. It's not going to be there forever," Hal Steinbrenner said Thursday.

New York offered a six-year contract to the pitcher last Friday, the first day teams were allowed to start talking money with free agents. The proposal exceeds Johan Santana's $137.5 million, six-year contract with the Mets both in total and average, a baseball official familiar with the negotiations said.

Post-season games won't be shortened

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig announced the sport will enact a rules change stating that post-season games cannot be shortened because of bad weather.

"All post-season games, All-Star games and that, will be full-length affairs, and the rule will be so written," Selig said Thursday following an owners' meeting.

Selig said the change also will apply to tiebreaker games that decide division titles and wild-card berths.

Around the majors

Mets: Rookie Daniel Murphy strained his right hamstring at the Arizona Fall League and will spend the rest of the winter getting ready for the start of spring training.

Murphy hit .313 with two home runs and 17 RBI in 131 at-bats for New York this season. He felt discomfort during batting practice Nov. 11 and a test Thursday revealed the injury.

Phillies-Rangers trade: World Series champion Philadelphia and the Rangers swapped former first-round picks Thursday.

Texas acquired outfielder Greg Golson from the Phillies for outfielder John Mayberry.

Golson was the 21st overall pick in the 2004 draft. He spent last season at Double-A Reading, where he hit .282 with 13 homers and 60 RBI.

Mayberry, drafted 19th overall in 2005, hit .263 with 16 homers and 58 RBI for Triple-A Oklahoma City this year.

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