CLEARWATER, Fla. Chase Utley rarely does press conferences. He doesnt like to talk to the media because, well, he doesnt like to talk to the media.
Every once in a while, however, Utley kind of has to talk to the press. Last spring, he took a few moments to talk about his knee issues on the warning track in front of the left-field fence to provide an update on how soon he would return to action. This spring, it was a similar situation, only the meeting took place on the other side of the fence near the dumpsters behind the ballpark.
Nevertheless, Utley carried out his trip to Arizona in secret and says he asked the Phillies not to tell anyone in the press where he was going.
I didnt think it was necessary for people to know, Utley said. I appreciate the organization for respecting my wishes in that regard.
Of course, when one of the best players on the team disappears for a week and neither the team nor the player tell anyone where he has gone off to, speculation has a way of running wild. That has nothing to do with social media, the proliferation of the mass media or anything else. Thats just nature when someone like Chase Utley leaves camp for a week to get his knee checked out and offers no other explanation.
I did not feel the need, Utley said. But there are a lot of rumors out there, which I dont know how they get started. I understand you guys look for things to write about, but now you have the information so theres no need to make things up or to speculate.
Of course there was an easy solution to things, too, which is to stop the speculation before it begins. Then again, when it comes to revealing information, major league baseball teams are about as draconian as the Politburo or the Wizard of Oz.
Why was there speculation about Utleys knee injury? Is there really a need to ask that question?
No, the curious thing is when there is not speculation when an All-Star departs for parts unknown and a general manager says things like this: Hes got bad knees. Hes got a cartilage issue. You cant grow cartilage. So its partially tendinitis and partially a cartilage issue. So hopefully we can get him to the point where hes feeling confident about playing on it.
This comes after Utley missed the first 46 games of alst season because of bad knees. It also comes after Utley reported to camp and said he felt, significantly better and was in a good place.
But in the weeks that followed, Utley stopped taking ground balls because of the pounding it created on his knees. When asked if Utley would be ready for Opening Day, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said that he expected the All-Star second baseman to be in the lineup.
But then he disappeared to an undisclosed location to see a specialist. He also returned Friday and said, through a team representative, that he would speak on Sunday. Since he had nothing of significance to say, why did it take so long?
Nope, nothing to see here keep moving.
Interestingly, Utley gave much to be optimistic about on Sunday afternoon. Hes going to come back to play at some point this season and his hell bent, all-out style will remain unchanged, he assured.
I have to change my preparation, Utley said. Not the way I play.
See, whats so difficult about that?
E-mail John Finger at firstname.lastname@example.org