All our fears were confirmed yesterday when we found out Chase Utley has to undergo surgery to repair his right hip.
It seems sometime in May, around the time the New York Times lauded Utley for his spectacular, all-effort play, Utley suffered the injury. We can only speculate that, but it’s very possible, as Utley’s game dwindled a bit from there. And we know Utley isn’t really a .290 hitter. Up until mid May, Utley was far and away baseball’s best offensive player, en route to a season rivaling Alex Rodriguez’s MVP campaign one year before.
What amazes me, and should amaze everyone, is the thought that Utley suffered the injury in May. Imagine the team’s best player performing on a bad hip for more than half a season. And imagine that player still performing at a sold level. Moreover, look back at the plays Utley made throughout the season. You’re telling me a guy with a bad hip did all that?
I could continue about this, but in the spirit of Utley, I’ll stop now. He knows he’s appreciated.
Ruben Amaro Jr. made a blunt point yesterday:
“You don’t necessarily replace an Utley.”
Touche. Don’t look for an Orlando Hudson to come in. Instead, you might see a veteran infielder come in to take some snaps. More likely, you’ll see Jason Donald on opening day. Which is fine with me — Donald has proven himself at the grueling AA level, and he blew past competition in the Arizona Fall League. He can hit, and he’ll want to show that. In fact, this all could be great news for the Phils — if Donald performs well, once Utley returns, Donald becomes a possible trading chip worth a Phil Hughes or any other overblown prospect fed from the big markets.
Tad Iguchi? Maybe, but not as a starter. He might be good for the occasional start, but he’s no everyday player. In 2007 he was a necessity. Now, with a few months to go and some experiments to be had, Iguchi isn’t needed at all.
Take out of the Utley surgery that the guy was hurt and he should be fine next season. Even if he returns in July, I wouldn’t mind. He’s the franchise, a player who is still signed on for another couple years. And, as cream, we have our title. There’s no need to rush him through. Now is the time to see the forest.