Make no mistake about it, the Phillies need some help with the bats. Considering that Sunday afternoons 5-1 loss to the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park marked the 12th time this season the team scored one or fewer runs and the 19th time they have scored two or less, the help cant come soon enough.
Maybe the Phillies will get some help sooner rather than later. Following the loss to the Marlins, injured second baseman Chase Utley said that he was headed for Clearwater, Fla. on Monday with the hope of beginning some extended spring action when he arrives
In Clearwater, Utley will join sluggers Ryan Howard and Jim Thome, both of whom are recovering from injuries and represent a big portion for the Phils offense. Utley had been working out on his own with the Phillies for the past several weeks, but now wants to test it out with some hitting.
Ive made some strides over the past few months and Im ready to take the next steps, Utley said after Sundays game.
As far as a time frame on a return goes, that remains up in the air. Utley missed the first 46 games of last season with a similar knee problem. When he returned he says he did not feel 100 percent, but missed just 13 games after his comeback. He already missed the first 55 games of the 2012 season and isnt sure when hell play for the Phillies this season.
Im just trying to feel comfortable on a daily basis, he said. There were times when I felt good one day and then didnt feel so good. Right now Im feeling good on a daily basis so Im headed down to Clearwater to get some at-bats. Ill start out by DHing and Ill be able to see some pitches and get my timing down and when the time is right, Ill get out on the field and work there.
The plan is for Utley to take some at-bats in extended spring games and, when he feels up to it, hell work in the field. At what position in the field was not discussed. Then again, the process is still in the beginning stages.
"Im not happy Im in this position, but Im excited to be able to go down and keep working and advance what Ive been working on here, Utley said.
Im still not perfect yet, but I think Im on the verge of getting there. I want to take the opportunity to get some at-bats and get a head start.
In the interim, the Phillies hope the bats will already be awake before Utley returns.
E-mail John Finger at email@example.com