Be merry, Philadelphia, for everyone’s favorite second baseman-slash-potty mouth-slash-WFC Chase Utley may be well on his way to playing some bona fide baseball as he rehabs from an injured right knee.
From Todd Zolecki:
[Utley] played in his second simulated game in three days today at Citizens Bank Park, and said it went well. Utley has been on the DL since the season started because of tendinitis in his right knee, but Charlie Manuel said Utley might be ready to take an important step in his return.
“It might be time to let him go somewhere, like Clearwater or something and start getting into a broader, bigger routine,” he said.
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Zolecki goes on to say that the likely next step for Utley is Clearwater, Florida, for a round of extended spring training that would pit him against the organization’s minor leaguers while providing some crucial in-game work, as well as giving Utley the opportunity to further test out his knee.
It’s another big step for Utley, who has slowly been progressing since being shelved earlier this year. Of course, we shouldn’t get too far ahead of ourselves, because even if his knee is 100 percent (we can safely assume that it’s not there yet), he still has yet to face live pitching or play in an actual game since game six of the National League Championship Series last season.
So long story short, he’s still a ways away from getting back into the lineup at Citizens Bank Park. But that’s OK, because putting a less than 100 percent Utley on the field in 2011 will almost certainly result in a diminishing return, as the last thing the tem wants is for him to rush back only to not be completely ready to take the field.
In the meantime, we’ll have to suffer with the platoon of Pete Orr and Wilson Valdez, which I am convinced has been carefully orchestrated by Ruben Amaro to make us all appreciate Utley even more when be takes the field for the first time as a Phillie this season.