Sunday, February 27, 2011
Posted: 12:05 p.m. Updated: 2:30 p.m.
By Jim SalisburyCSNPhilly.com
CLEARWATER, Fla. Chase Utleys health is once again an issue for the Phillies.
The all-star second baseman is battling patellar tendinitis in his right knee, the team revealed Sunday.
Ive had it before from time to time, Utley said. It comes and goes. Right now its not going as fast as I wish it would.
Utley, who missed his third straight game Sunday, did not sound alarmed by his condition.
I think its a day-to-day thing, he said. At this point of the spring, its better to be safe than sorry. Id rather miss some games down here than miss some in the season. Im trying to look at things in the big picture. Hopefully well play 200 more games this year.
If this were the regular season, Utley said, hed probably be able to play through the soreness.
Manager Charlie Manuel held Utley out of the first two exhibition games last week, saying Utley had general soreness in his legs and knees. Manuel said the problem was not serious and called it routine for the early stages of spring training.
When the soreness didnt subside, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan ordered an MRI, which was performed Saturday in Clearwater.
It was bothering Chase enough and bothering me enough to take that precaution, Amaro said.
Utley agreed to the MRI to make sure it was not more severe than we anticipated - and its not. Its just a little tendinitis.
Utley is able to take batting practice and did so Sunday. He has been held out of infield and running drills.
It doesnt bother him when he hits, Amaro said. It bothers him when he does more explosive stuff so well stay away from that, keep him from some of the pounding of being on the field. Were going to treat it and try to cool it down. Theres no sense in pushing him now. Hell play when he feels more comfortable.
He understands this is about the long haul. Theres no reason to push him now and have it be a problem in May, June, July or August. So well take it easy on him.
Utley was not planning to have a cortisone injection, though thats an option down the road if his condition does not improve. Neither he nor Amaro believe the problem will affect his readiness for the April 1 season opener.
Utley said the problem first surfaced during his offseason workouts. When hes had it in the past, it has lasted anywhere from a day to a couple of weeks.
Theres no rhyme or reason why it flares up, he said. Its part of being an everyday player.Manuel is confident Utley can recover quickly."I've had knee and shoulder tendinitis and it can be taken care of," he said. "I'm concerned, of course, but at the same timeI feel like I did before he had the MRI. It'll take a few days to get well, but it will get well and we'll have plenty of time to get him ready."Utley turned 32 in the offseason. His health has been an issue for several years. He played with a hip injury that required surgery after the 2008 season. He missed significant time last season after blowing out a ligament in his thumb while diving into a base.
Amaro said the knee tendinitis could be the result of wear and tear. With Utley, wear and tear is always a concern because he plays the game so hard, seldom letting up in intensity. Utleys style of play has led some baseball insiders to wonder in recent seasons if he has begun to wear down as a player.
Asked if he worries about that, Amaro said, I worry about all our guys. But Chase is going to keep grinding it out. Thats the way hes going to be. This is part of trying to slow him down. We just have to be careful with him. He likes to work so hard. Sometimes we have to take the onus off him.
Utley is signed through 2013 and guaranteed 45 million over that span.
Utility man Wilson Valdez, who started 42 games at second base last season, played the position Sunday in place of Utley.
Going on the field at this point would not be beneficial, Utley said. Its just something to keep an eye on and take care of.
E-mail Jim salisbury at email@example.com
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