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Every starter, with one exception, collected at least one hit. The lone holdout was Chase Utley, who went 0-for-5 in his long-awaited season debut. Nonetheless, his presence spurred the NL East leaders to their most runs in one game since April 29.
Utley received a long and loud standing ovation from the largest regular-season crowd ever at Citizens Bank Park.
“I tried to tune it out, but it was a little too loud,” Utley said of the deafening roar that accompanied his first at-bat of the season. “I’ll take that any time. The crowd was outstanding, as usual.”
The question now becomes whether or not Utley’s knee can hold up to the every day grind. Utley expects to get more days off than most players and might not play day games after night games. Other than that, he’ll be back in the line-up, just as Phillie fans want it.
In a terrible blow to the many half-dozens of Wilson Valdez and Pete Orr fans in the greater Philadelphia area, Chase Utley is back in the starting lineup Monday night, hitting second for the Philadelphia Phillies. Via SB Nation Philly, who have been all over Chase Utley returning, here is the long-anticipated visual evidence:
Utley played nine games in Class A Clearwater on a rehab assignment, getting 32 at-bats and managing a .281/.361/.438 line with six strikeouts. Otherwise he hasn't played at all this spring, as he came to camp with knee problems that prevented him playing even in exhibition games.
The scariest thing for the NL East and the rest of the National League is that the Phillies were 28-18 without Utley. While it might take him a bit to get to 100 percent, all he has to do to improve the Phillies is out-hit Wilson Valdez, whose OPS was 20 points lower than that of Cole Hamels entering Monday's game against Cincinnati.
Toward the end of spring training, nobody seemed to have any idea when Chase Utley might return to the Philadelphia Phillies' lineup. But there was some ominous mention of the All-Star break, which then seemed (and still seems) a long ways off.
Today it looks like Utley will return before Memorial Day. From Philadelphia Sports Daily:
The Phillies wouldn't confirm that Monday would mark the return of Chase Utley, but it's looking more and more likely.
Manager Charlie Manuel said on Saturday that Utley is "really close." With the way things have gone offensively for the Phillies, Utley's debut on the field can't come quickly enough. But it will be at least Monday before that happens.
Utley played in nine games with Class A Clearwater during his rehab stint, batting .281 and performing his various duties without any physical problems. Upon rejoining the parent club, Utley might not immediately hit (or field) like his old self, but it's hard to figure he won't be welcomed back. The Phillies' second baseman -- mostly Wilson Valdez and Pete Orr -- currently rank last in the National League with a 551 OPS.
Chase Utley will step up his rehab tonight, making his first official rehab start for Class A Clearwater. This is significant first, because it is his first affiliated game. Second, it will be his first action on back-to-back days. Utley played in extended spring training games on Saturday and Monday.
As Hagen points out, players can stay on rehab assignments in the minors for only 20 days, which means if everything checks out physically, Utley will be activated by May 29 at the latest. Obviously, the Phillies would love to have him back with the big club before then, especially considering the combined .235/.283/.277 line — worst in the National League — posted by Phillies second basemen this season.
Meanwhile, in other rehab news, Hagen reports that Utley will be joined in the Threshers lineup Thursday night by Roy Oswalt and Carlos Ruiz, which might set some sort of record for MLB talent in a Class A lineup. If I were going to be in Clearwater this week, I know what I would be doing …
Missing Phillies second baseman Chase Utley appears ready to get going in earnest. It was suggested just the other day that Utley might benefit from a trip to extended spring training. Well, what do we have here?
Chase Utley is ready to intensify his workouts as he recovers from right knee tendinitis.
Sources tell CSNPhilly.com that barring a setback or change of plans, Utley is expected to travel to Florida on Friday and begin working out at the Phillies’ spring-training compound over the weekend.
So Utley's lined up to get going in extended spring training in a matter of days. He's looked good in some recent simulated games, and now he'll begin progressing towards playing in some actual minor league games. Once he can do that and get comfortable without his knee acting up, he'll be ready to join the Phillies, and while nobody's setting an official timetable, the hope is that Utley will be back with the team by the end of May or beginning of June.
Good news, for a team that keeps rolling despite a lot of bad news.
The latest updates on Chase Utley have been pretty ambiguous -- "Chase Utley could begin running soon," "Chase Utley has pulled an old pair of running shoes out of his closet," "Chase Utley thinking about possibly getting one of those Wii Fit games." This one is just a little bit better, from David Hale of the Wilmington News Journal:
Charlie says he thinks Utley would benefit from more workouts in ext spring & soon be ready for some games. Did well in workouts today.
That's probably the best update that we've heard on the All-Star second baseman in a while. Utley has missed the entire season thus far with a rugged combination of bone inflammation, tendinitis, and chondromalacia. The Phillies have used Wilson Valdez in Utley's place, and while the offensive production is a far cry from what Philadelphia has come to expect, no one has really noticed with the Phillies winning games.
Progress. For Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, every day is about progress as he rehabs from a knee injury that's kept him out all spring and season to date. Utley's been fairly quiet about the whole situation, but on Tuesday he shared a few words with the media, which might have been encouraging or discouraging, depending on your perspective. From David Hale:
Utley said his knee feels significantly better than it did when the team left Florida to begin the regular season three weeks ago, but when it comes to testing its strength, he’s playing it safe.
"From Day 1 until now, it’s been a little bit of a progression, taking more, moving a little bit more," Utley said. "But it’s still going to be a slow process unfortunately."
Utley has advanced to the point where he's jogging, fielding grounders and moving laterally in sneakers, and he's nearing a switch to cleats. He has clearly been making steady improvement. Yet, in his own words, it's a slow process, and there's a ways to go yet before he's back to feeling 100%, or anywhere close to it.
So Utley remains without a timetable. Fortunately, the Phillies have been winning without him, so there's no sense of urgency.
While the Philadelphia Phillies have jumped out to a fast start, they're still eagerly awaiting the return of Chase Utley. Philles manager Charlie Manuel says that while progress is being made, it's coming along slowly. From Phillies.com:
"It's still the same," Manuel said. "It's a day-to-day thing. He's slowly getting better. He's slowly feeling better. Hopefully, he keeps going that way."
The slugging All-Star second baseman was diagnosed with patellar tendinitis in his right knee before the start of spring training, and Utley hasn't played a game since. The Phillies are hoping that Utley will be back sometime before the All-Star break, possibly as soon as May.
The Phillies haven't missed Utley as much as they would have expected in the first two weeks of the regular season, with fill-in Wilson Valdez hitting .353/.389/.441 through the first 11 games. The team obviously isn't expecting that kind of production going forward from a .245/.294/.331 career hitter, so they'll continue to push for a speedy return for Utley.
Now we get to update an earlier item. A Ken Rosenthal report from Tuesday morning suggested that injured Phillies second baseman Chase Utley might be nearing the point at which he could begin jogging. However, Todd Zolecki has clarification:
Ruben Amaro Jr. said while Utley has improved, he is not close to jogging. Still feels some discomfort while fielding grounders.
So that takes care of that. Utley's knee is still barking when he moves side to side, and until that resolves itself, he probably isn't going to start jogging. He can't run if he can't jog, and he can't play if he can't run. So while Utley's making progress, it hasn't quite advanced to the level implied earlier.
The Phillies probably shouldn't count on having Utley in the lineup for another few months. On the plus side, they are 3-0, and Wilson Valdez has four hits in 11 at bats. So things could be worse. Utley's an irreplaceable player, but one could argue that the Phillies have an elite talent surplus.
Chase Utley's knee injury is the kind of thing the Phillies really didn't need, and when Utley himself said in an interview that he's just looking to get back for the second half, fans grew understandably concerned that this could be a pretty big deal.
But now we have some good news. Via Ken Rosenthal, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro says that Utley could start jogging within a few days.
It sounds so simple, but that would be a big step for Utley, whose movement has been limited. Only recently has he started fielding groundballs without the use of a chair, moving to his right. He's also done some workouts underwater in an effort to test himself, but nothing that measures up to jogging.
Once Utley can jog, and jog pain-free, he could be on the fast track to return. From jogging, he goes to running, and from running, he goes to a rehab assignment. There's no timetable for his return right now, and the Phillies aren't going to bring him back until the discomfort is a thing of the past, but this is encouraging, to say the least. Utley may be able to join his teammates in the first half.
Today, Chase Utley spoke at length to reporters about his knee injury, and Todd Zolecki took it all down (MLB.com). Zolecki's big finish:
Q: You said there is no timetable, but do you see yourself back before the All-Star break? That's three months away.
A: That would be a goal, yes.
That's the goal? Within three months? Not April or May or June, but before the All-Star break?
It's not easy to overestimate the impact of a single player.
Actually, it's quite easy. People do it all the time. And it's a fact that the Phillies won 97 games last year despite both Utley and Jimmy Rollins missing big chunks of the season. But there's a big difference between one of the best players in the National League and some combination of Wilson Valdez and Luis Castillo.
The Phillies can win without Utley; they've proven that. But with Jayson Werth gone and Brad Lidge on the shelf and who knows what else, this thing might not be as easy as everyone thought.
Chase Utley's injury is getting better. Slowly but surely, the Phillies' second baseman is making progress in recovering from his knee problems. He's taken batting practice, he's made throws from second base, and he's fielded groundballs while sitting in a chair (so he doesn't have to move side-to-side).
But despite the progress, Utley has yet to appear in a Spring Training game, and an appearance isn't exactly around the corner. So with the season beginning next week, general manager Ruben Amaro finally acknowledged that Utley is going to open on the disabled list.
This news isn't surprising, and really just confirms what we've long suspected. For as long as Utley is out, the Phillies will lean on inferior alternatives. They just signed the recently-released Luis Castillo. There are also guys like Wilson Valdez and Josh Barfield available. Whoever wins the job is sure to represent a significant downgrade from one of best players in the league.
Chase Utley is continuing to be bothered by the same knee problems that've sidelined him all camp. Diagnosed with inflammation, tendinitis, and chondromalacia, Utley has had a cortisone shot, but unfortunately:
On Thursday, the Phillies sent Utley to a rehab specialist to try and get him on the path to recovery. The Phillies have spoken about non-operative solutions before and this is certainly one of them, as the specialist worked with Utley on a few different techniques. It's clear from Ruben Amaro's words, however, that the Phillies don't really know what they're dealing with here:
"We've been researching different ways to try to handle it and help him improve and this was just one of the ways we felt that hopefully it will help him."
The team is doing "everything it possibly can" to get Utley better without putting him under the knife, but everybody is frustrated to some degree by his slow progress. Surgery remains a possibility down the road.
Utley is currently unable to run, and he can only field groundballs when sitting in a chair.
Earlier Wednesday, the Phillies released a statement concerning Chase Utley's knee injury. Their conclusion? Utley has bone inflammation, tendinitis, and chondromalacia, or "runner's knee", which refers to pain at the front of the knee caused by the irritation of soft cartilage. No major damage has been identified by any tests, and the team will continue pursuing non-operative treatments.
The problem is that those non-operative treatments have, to date, failed to work. In particular the cortisone shot that Utley recently received. The Phillies and Utley will keep trying, and they'll try new things in an effort to get their star infielder healthy, but the specter of surgery looms down the road in case nothing else is able to work.
In the meantime, the Phillies are left with a roster question. For as long as Utley is out of action, they're down a critical infielder, forcing someone like Wilson Valdez into a starting spot. The team could stay inside the organization and hope for the best. However, in the event that Utley looks set to miss a lot of time, the team could then go outside looking for help. The fact that Placido Polanco can play both second and third gives them more choices. David Eckstein remains a free agent, and there are a handful of potential trade targets, including Texas' Michael Young should the Phillies feel adventurous.
Stay tuned. The Phillies have been considered World Series favorites, but as long as Utley's on the sideline with a frustrating knee injury, the team is significantly weaker.
Via MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, we have this official statement from Phillies team physician Michael Ciccotti:
Chase has had mild patellar tendinitis and chondromalacia in the past that have previously resolved quickly. His symptoms returned during his off-season workouts, and he developed some anterior knee pain consistent with his prior history. When he reported to spring training this year, his knee was treated as it had been in the past, however his symptoms continued. An MRI was obtained that demonstrated his prior tendinitis, chondromalacia, and bone inflammation. His chondromalacia symptoms persisted in spite of focused non-operative care, including a cortisone injection. A subsequent cartilage-specific MRI was obtained confirming the initial diagnosis. Continued non-operative treatment is being carried out and additional opinions will be obtained."
This could sound better, right? If Utley continues to non-respond to non-operative treatment, eventually there’s going to be an operation. Which would change the picture in the National League East, at least a little.
When Chase Utley was diagnosed with knee tendinitis last week, the Phillies didn't seem all that concerned. The plan was simply to bring him along slowly and keep from making things worse. It's Spring Training, right? Utley had all the time in the world.
Since then, though, things have grown a little more problematic. Utley still hasn't played in a Grapefruit League game. He had a cortisone shot in his knee. And while he's been taking batting practice, that's all he's been doing, as he's been shut down from all other baseball activities. He's not running, and he's not doing anything in the way of lateral motion, as the Phillies don't want to put any strain on his knee.
It's only March 8th, and Opening Day remains a long ways away, but there's cause for concern, here. Utley's a 32-year-old middle infielder with a stubborn knee that isn't responding real well to treatment. He may be fine in time for the season, but he also may not be, and between this and the Domonic Brown injury, the Phillies have to be counting their blessings that they'll never allow a run.
MLB.com beat writer Todd Zolecki is reporting that Phillies' 2B Chase Utley's MRI results show patellar tendinitis in his right knee.
Chase Utley has tendinitis in his right knee, and the Phillies said they will bring him along slowly this spring to ensure he is ready for the season.
Utley is not in the lineup for Sunday's Grapefruit League game against the Yankees and has missed three games so far.
Utley commented to say that surgery has not been discussed at the moment.
"I think at this point it's better to be safe than sorry," Utley said. "I'd rather miss some games here than miss games during the season. It's something that I've dealt with before. It's something I'm probably going to have to continue to maintain and keep an eye on."
The Phillies said there is no timetable for Utley to play his next game though he is fully expected to play in the April 1 season opener against the Houston Astros.
The Good Phight will have updates on Utley and the Phillies throughout Spring Training.
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