The Philadelphia Phillies got one of their starting nine -- catcher Carlos Ruiz -- back into the lineup on Tuesday, and now it seems another much-needed veteran is close to rejoining the club as well. Second baseman Chase Utley is set to begin his rehab assignment at Double-A Reading on Wednesday and should be activated by the end of the week, reports Todd Zolecki of MLB.com.
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The 34-year-old Utley, who has been sidelined since May 20 with a strained right oblique, will likely play just one or two games with the Double-A club before rejoining the Phillies' infield, per Zolecki. The veteran needed a nine-game rehab stint last year while recovering from his chronic knee issues, but his current oblique injury isn't nearly so severe.
Utley was playing well before he went down late last month, batting .272/.339/.475 with seven home runs in 44 games. The trio of Freddy Galvis, Kevin Frandsen, and Cesar Hernandez have manned second base in Utley's absence, with only Frandsen really pulling his own weight at the plate.
There has been some speculation that the Phillies could part with Utley -- who will be a free agent at season's end -- before the July trade deadline, but it becomes less and less likely the longer the club lingers around .500. The Phillies currently sit a 35-37 on the year, which is somehow good for second place in the NL East.