Updated 10:26 p.m.
The Phillies on Thursday night placed second baseman Chase Utley on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique muscle.
Utley suffered the injury taking swings during batting practice in Miami on Tuesday night. An MRI performed in Philadelphia on Thursday revealed a Grade 1 strain. According to the team, there was no intercostal or rib cage injury.
“The recovery for this type of injury should take between two and four weeks,” GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement. “We do believe and hope that Chase will be ready to play in Philadelphia within 15 days.”
To replace Utley on the roster, the Phillies have purchased the contract of Michael Martinez from Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Martinez will serve as a utilityman to fill a spot on the bench while Freddy Galvis moves into Utley's starting role. Martinez has spent parts of the last two seasons with the big club, appearing in 45 games last year and 88 games in 2011 and is valuable more for his versatility and speed than his bat. He holds a .188 career average, but he can play second base, third base and shortstop, as well as all three outfield positions.
Utley is the latest prominent Phillie to go on the DL recently, joining Roy Halladay, Carlos Ruiz and Mike Adams. Pitcher John Lannan is also on the DL. He could return sometime next month.
This is the fourth straight season that Utley, 34, has been on the DL. The Phillies hope this is a shorter trip than past ones. He missed six weeks in 2010 with a torn ligament in his thumb, two months with knee problems in 2011 and nearly three months last season with knee issues. He has averaged just 100 games the last three seasons.
Utley felt a twinge in his right side after taking a few swings in batting practice Tuesday night.
“It definitely scared me a little bit,” he said Wednesday. “My first swing, I felt something. My second swing, I felt it again. My third swing, I felt it again. After the fourth swing, I realized something wasn’t right.”
Utley has spoken with several players who have had a similar injury.
“The main thing they said is, 'Don't rush back,' “ Utley said Wednesday. ”That's when you can make it worse and prolong the time you're out.”
Utley was off to a solid start, hitting .272 with a team-best .814 OPS in 44 games. His seven homers are second-most on the club and his 25 RBIs are tied for the top spot with Ryan Howard.
Jorge Alfaro is behind the plate for the Phillies tonight and bats eighth. Alfaro has appeared in just four games since being called up earlier this month, and has just one hit in 10 at-bats.
Tommy Joseph is back in the lineup and batting fifth. Pete Mackanin has said that Ryan Howard would get a lot of playing time during the last few games, but it is Joseph who gets the start tonight. Joseph is batting just .154 against the Mets this season.
Odubel Herrera, who has been hitting well in September, will remain in the three spot. He has two homers and is batting .391 over the past week. Herrera has two hits in six at-bats against Mets' starter Sean Gilmartin.
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Roman Quinn, RF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Tommy Joseph, 1B
6. Darin Ruf, LF
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Jorge Alfaro, C
9. Alec Asher, P
September roster expansion has not provided many Phillies prospects an opportunity to impress — J.P. Crawford and Nick Williams never got the call, Jorge Alfaro has started just twice in two weeks — but the one who has gotten a chance has created an interesting situation atop the Phils' order.
Roman Quinn, who has a .375 on-base percentage in his first 58 plate appearances in The Show, has settled nicely into the two-spot in the lineup, using his speed, plate selection and switch-hitting ability to make the top of the order a bit more dangerous.
It's not a lock that all three of Quinn, Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera are still with the Phillies next opening day. Hernandez or Herrera could be shopped, and if Quinn doesn't hit in spring training, maybe he begins the year at Triple A.
But having a 1-2-3 of Hernandez, Quinn and Herrera — which is the way the lineup has gone recently — is intriguing. None have big power, but they all have speed and the ability to get on base consistently. Hernandez is hitting .293 with a .367 OBP and Herrera is at .287 with a .363 OBP. It's not as dynamic a one-two punch as Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino, who had more power. It's not Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo with the Marlins in the early 2000s — they had more speed. But there's real value in having as many as three guys at the top of the lineup who get on base at a .350-plus clip.
A few more notes on that trio:
• At .367 and .363, respectively, Hernandez and Herrera have the highest on-base percentages of any Phillies players since 2010. Nobody since 2012 has even been above .348.
• Hernandez has a .419 on-base percentage in 342 plate appearances since June 23. That's not a small sample, it's 79 games, nearly a half-season. During that span, the only four players in the majors with an OBP higher than Hernandez are Joey Votto, Mike Trout, D.J. LeMahieu and Freddie Freeman.
• Herrera has hit .292 with a .354 on-base percentage in two seasons as a Phillie. He's one of only 10 NL players with a BA and OBP that high the last two years. The others are Votto, Daniel Murphy, Paul Goldschmidt, Charlie Blackmon, Buster Posey, Christian Yelich, LeMahieu, Ryan Braun and Freeman. Not bad company.
• Hernandez's ability to get on base has been a positive, but his speed still isn't translating to stolen base success. Hernandez is 17 for 30 this season. He's the only major-leaguer since Brady Clark in 2005 to be caught stealing at least 13 times in 30 or fewer attempts.
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