Phillies second baseman Chase Utley missed almost 60 games' worth of the 2011 season with various knee issues, and when he did play, his performance was far beneath his usual level: .259/.344/.425 with just 11 home runs in 103 games.
Utley has yet to play this spring, and Monday brought more bad news:
#phillies announce chase utley has left camp to have his knee evaluated by a specialist— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) March 19, 2012
Michael Martinez, who played quite a bit of second base for the Phillies while Utley was out last year, has been playing there this spring and is hitting .310/.375/.483 in a small-sample-size 29 at-bats. In 2011, though, he hit just .196/.258/.282 in 234 plate appearances. A repeat of that certainly wouldn't replace Utley's production. The Phillies could just plug Wilson Valdez in there... except they traded Valdez to the Reds in January.
So the Phillies, who are aging at quite a number of positions, now face the prospect of opening yet another season without Chase Utley and without a suitable replacement. The Phillies still have that great pitching staff, but their offense could be another story.
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