|Iguchi eager to fill Utley's shoes|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 28 July 2007 13:34|
``I'm very excited to join the Phillies and I'm starting to like my red uniform,'' Iguchi said through interpreter David Yamamoto.
Iguchi was in the starting lineup and batting seventh against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday night. The Phillies traded a minor league pitcher to the Chicago White Sox to get Iguchi on Friday, hours after All-Star Chase Utley had surgery on his broken right ring finger.
Iguchi batted .251 this season with 17 doubles, four triples, six home runs and 31 RBIs in 90 games for the White Sox. He is a career .273 hitter with 39 home runs, 169 RBIs and 216 runs scored in three seasons in Chicago.
Utley was having an MVP-caliber season before he got hurt when he was struck by a pitch from Washington's John Lannan, in the fifth inning of the pitcher's major league debut on Thursday. Utley is batting .336 with 41 doubles, 17 home runs and 82 RBIs. He could be back in three weeks.
Until then, Iguchi will try to fill his shoes.
``I'm very aware of how great a player Mr. Utley is and I have tremendous respect for him,'' Iguchi said.
Assistant general manager Mike Arbuckle said the Phillies might consider moving Iguchi to third base when Utley returns. Iguchi played shortstop in Japan for several years, but his experience at third base is limited. For now, Iguchi doesn't have to worry about adjusting to a new position.
``I'm open to all options,'' he said. ``I'm here to help the Phillies win.''
Iguchi is earning $3.2 million this season in the final year of a contract. He'll be a free agent after the season and hopes to stay in the major leagues, though he'd consider returning to play in Japan.
While Iguchi is taking Utley's spot in the field, leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins now is filling the important No. 3 hole in the batting order. Rollins leads the National League in total bases. He had 237 going into Saturday night's game.