Buzz: Latest from spring training

Feb. 16 News and Notes Utley hopes new fitness program yields Jeter-like results

Derek Jeter became a quicker, more athletic player after spending two offseasons with a new fitness trainer.

Chase Utley is trying to do the same thing.

Utley, the Phillies' All-Star second baseman, recently completed more than two months of work with his new trainer, Dr. Phil Wagner, director of Sparta Performance Science in Menlo Park, Calif.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., after watching video of Utley, said, "it looks like his speed has increased." Wagner confirmed Amaro's perception, saying that Utley will be "much more athletic"

than in the past.

Utley, 31, is two years younger than Jeter was when the Yankees' shortstop, seeking to increase his range, adopted a new training regimen in January 2008.

Wagner sought to increase Utley's flexibility -- and thus his longevity. The more flexible a player is, the more resistant he is to injury - and the more "elastic" and "whippy" his body becomes, Wagner

said.

For Utley, the effect could be stronger throws, faster running times and less strain on his surgically repaired right hip when he swings.

One of Wagner's techniques is a weight-training exercise in which a player squats until his rear end hits the floor. Utley more than doubled the weight he could handle, from 110 pounds to 253, during his time at Sparta. He also cut two-tenths of a second off his 30-yard sprint time - a drop that could mean the difference between safe and out when he is attempting to steal a base.

"We had over 20 (professional) baseball players here, and that increase was the largest we saw," Wagner said. "For a guy who was almost the World Series MVP to show the biggest improvement says a lot. It's a testament to Chase. He was open-minded, coachable.

"It will be fun to see how he test-drives this new car in spring training." -- Ken Rosenthal