Chase Utley is humming right along in his rehab with the Clearwater Threshers, but that doesn’t mean we’ll be seeing him in the red pinstripes any time soon.
Utley hasn’t had any issues while he works his way back from patellar tendinitis in his right knee, but that the second baseman is still a ways away from returning to the big club, at least according to Ruben Amaro, whose words come to us via The Inquirer’s Matt Gelb
"Let's put it this way: He's not coming to Philadelphia in the middle of the week," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "He needs at-bats."
Amaro indicated that even if Utley was totally healthy already, which he is not yet, the GM still wouldn't bring him up. The team wants Utley to go through this process much like it was spring training because he didn't face any live pitching in February or March.
While most of us are most assuredly tired of seeing second base being manned by Pete Orr and Wilson Valdez, two players who provide little more than a warm body to plug into a lineup card on a nightly basis, we can’t be too impatient when it comes to Chase Utley, especially if he isn’t ready to return.
And as painful as it is to see the Phillies get zero homers and 11 RBIs of production out of the Orr/Wilson tandem, it’s important to recognize that Utley’s contributions to the team are directly related to his health and readiness, so it makes little sense to force him up just so they don’t need to deal with a black hole in the lineup. If Utley isn’t ready until September, then so be it.
I exaggerate, of course, but with the health concerns surrounding the team and the struggles of the offense as of late, they can’t afford to take any chances with Utley, who stands to have the greatest impact on the team as any one player for any team this season.
It’s be swell if he could hit third for the Phillies tomorrow, and I wouldn’t at all be surprised if he was back with the team next week, but for now, patience is a virtue for Utley, the team, and the fans.