We spoke about this last week, but things are looking up for Chase Utley – and the Phillies – as the second baseman will head to Clearwater on Tuesday to begin his minor league assignment with the Threshers.
Corey Seidman of Brotherly Glove fame talked about this over on CSN Philly.
It begins an official 20-day minor league rehab clock, meaning the latest Utley can return to the major leagues is July 2, which is also an off-day. The Phillies will play 19 games before then. As Jim Salisbury pointed out last week, it is “expected that both [Howard and Utley] will max-out their time or at least come close to doing so” once they begin their rehab clocks.
It's unclear just how much Chase will play (he will start out as the DH), so expectations have to be tempered, at least a little bit. But if the team is letting him play in actual, honest-to-goodness baseball games, the prognosis has to be good.
The big thing for Utley, as it's always been, is how he does in the field. His knee injury affects his lateral movement more than anything else, so a big step for him will to consistently play nine innings of defense as he tests out his range of motion.
The timing of this could not be better, as the Phillies are now down a second baseman thanks to Freddy Galvis' injury, and could use the offensive boost that Utley is sure to provide.