CLEARWATER, Fla. Chase Utley spent another day watching baseball Thursday.
Ruben Amaro Jr., nonetheless, continues to believe that his second baseman will be ready to play in the season opener in three weeks.
Because I think hes going to be fine, the Phillies general manager said.
Utley has not played a spring-training game since 2010.
We hope next week, Amaro said when asked when he envisioned Utley finally getting on the field.
Utley has chronic tendinitis in his right knee. The condition cost him the first 47 games of last season and manager Charlie Manuel says, His problem is not going away. More than likely, it might never go away. The condition must constantly be managed. Thats why the team is taking it slowly with Utley this spring.
We dont want him pounding on it, Amaro said.
Amaro said that once Utley gets on the field, the player will let team officials know whether he can be ready for opening day.
He will let us know health-wise and performance-wise, Amaro said.
Manuel was asked how concerned he was about Utley.
Im concerned with Chase, he said. Im always concerned with Chase. Once we get him to where we want him to be he can play. But I dont know when thats going to be. I want him to be a real good percentage. Will he ever be 100 percent? I dont know.
If Utley is not ready for opening day, the Phillies could bring in infield help via a trade. Sources have said they are exploring trade possibilities. Its also possible they could use 22-year-old Freddy Galvis at the position. Galvis, a shortstop by trade, has started five of the last six games at second and looked quite good.
Amaro admitted that the Phils were evaluating Galvis at second as a contingency for Utley, but I dont think well be in that position, he said.
Manuel would have no misgivings using Galvis at second.
Hes a good player, Manuel said. He has good instincts. Somebody taught him good. Hes improving at the plate. Hes probably our best bunter. Hes steady day in and day out.
Does Manuel believe Galvis can play second in the big leagues?
Yes, I do, he said.
Scott Podsednik had two hits and an RBI in Thursdays 6-4 win over Atlanta and is hitting .333 for the spring. He and Juan Pierre are competing for the final outfield spot. Lefty Dontrelle Willis walked a batter but pitched out of trouble in one inning of work. Manuel said the team would continue to evaluate Willis, who is on a non-guaranteed contract. Reliever Jose Contreras, coming off elbow surgery, pitched a pain-free inning in a minor-league game. He believes he will be ready for opening day. Cliff Lee starts against the Pirates in Bradenton on Friday.