Don't expect to see Utley in the swing of things any time soon.
Chase Utley spoke to the media Monday about his patellar tendinitis-inflicted right knee -- the same injury that’s kept him out of action all spring long -- how he is progressing and when he intends to get back on the field.
MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki has the skinny, which has been distilled down to the juicy bits for your reading pleasure at Philthy Stuff.
Q: Have you improved at all?
A: Yeah, over the past few weeks I think we have made some progress for obviously the good. We're going to continue to stay on top of what we've been doing. I'm optimistic at this point we're going to continue doing what we're doing and go from there.
Q: Are you close to running? Are you close to taking grounders?
A: Yeah, I've started to take some light ground balls the past few days. And that's definitely a positive. We haven't started running yet. We're going to kind of let my body dictate how it's going and make progressions from there. I think at this point we want to take steps forward and not backward, and so far we're doing that.
Q: What are you optimistic about? Getting on the field or avoiding surgery?
A: I think both. Absolutely. The whole goal is to get back on the field and in my mind we're making the right steps to do that.
Q: You said there's progress. How would you describe that progress?
A: I think being able to take ground balls fairly light, not a whole lot of intensity, just to be able to do that pain free was important.
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.
To recap: I’m getting better, I intend on contributing to the effort in 2011 and I’d really like to avoid surgery. Also, don’t ask me about my business, Kay.
Given the nature of how players, coaches, managers and front office types tend to react to these things -- that is to say, they almost always mislead the fans and media on purpose (after all, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to show your cards if you don’t have to) -- all indications from the Phillies’ camp are encouraging, which is a far cry from where most fans were about a month ago when Utley had some mysterious “soreness” that precluded him from playing in any games.
All told, we can breathe a bit easier now that it appears that Utley is making progress, however slight. Although it would be great if his affliction was something tangible that had a clear and defined treatment and recovery process as opposed to the nebulousness that it is, at least it’s heading in the right direction.
Despite the prognosis, it still means the team needs to get after it without the benefit of their best bat in the lineup for at least a month, which means it’s going to be some amalgam of Luis Castillo and Wilson Valdez and probably Michael Martinez for the foreseeable future.
Good thing they have all those pitchers, eh?