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Utley 'on the same page' with McClure

Veteran expressed concern over use of Francoeur on mound in loss to O's

PHILADELPHIA -- Chase Utley said Sunday he meant no disrespect to Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure.

"It's unfortunate that a heartfelt conversation has turned into a controversy," Utley said in the Phillies' clubhouse before their 9-2 win in the series finale against the Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park.

The typically stoic Utley showed some emotion on the mound in the eighth inning of Tuesday's 19-3 loss to the Orioles in Baltimore. The Phillies had asked outfielder Jeff Francoeur to pitch to save an overworked bullpen, but Francoeur began to tire in his second inning of work. Knowing it would make no sense to have Francoeur blow out his elbow in a meaningless game, Utley expressed his concerns to McClure, who had made a visit to the mound.

"I was concerned for Jeff's well-being, to be honest," Utley said. "I know he's pitched a little bit in the past. He threw a lot of pitches that night and he wanted to continue to be out there. I just expressed my concern for him. By no means was my intention to be disrespectful to Bob. I've talked to Bob about it. We're both on the same page. Over the course of my career these types of conversations happen every year, whether it's between players and players, coaches and coaches or players and coaches. I have the utmost respect for Bob and the entire coaching staff."

McClure said this week he had no problem with what Utley said on the mound.

Many perceived Utley's atypical public display of frustration as another sign that Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg and the coaching staff had lost the clubhouse.

Sandberg has ruffled some feathers in the past with the way he benched Jimmy Rollins in Spring Training 2014, and handled Ryan Howard's playing time in July 2014. Communication has been an issue at times and the front office discussed it with Sandberg in the offseason.

But Utley said Sandberg and the coaching staff are respected in the clubhouse.

"Obviously, we're not playing very well," Utley said. "What I've seen over the course of my career is that when times are tough that's when more controversy is made about stuff that shouldn't be controversial. Overall, I think we're playing hard. We're not getting the results that we would like, but the effort and the desire is there."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.
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