“I don’t know when I’ll be back,” Chase Utley told reporters Sunday, after speaking briefly in sunny Clearwater. He said that his knee will not require surgery, and that he will not even look into a surgical procedure unless it gives him 100% recovery, which is unlikely. He will be doing some new rehab workouts to ease himself into his routine. He expects to play this season, but mentioned that it will take time and that he doesn’t want to rush things.
Utley has been battling his knee issues for a while now, and the last two years have really held him back. He missed all of Spring Training last year and the first two and half months of the season.
It was revealed in an MRI last year that he had patellar tendinitis, a condition that affects the tendon connecting the kneecap to the shin. It was also said that he suffered from Chrondromalacia patella, which means that the actual tissue under the kneecap is soft, creating constant, uncomfortable pain.
What he said today was something that we all expected. Once he left camp to see a specialist, we all kind of expected the Phillies to begin the season without their 33 year old second basemen. There were some encouraging things he said, like when he said that the pain he was experiencing was not as bad as last year, and that he would begin some new rehab exercises. This could suggest that he might return to the Phillies sooner than he did last year (46 games), and might be able to play a little better with less pain.
In the absence of Utley, we should expect the Phillies to turn to Freddy Galvis and possibly someone outside of the organization to fill in. With Ryan Howard also on the shelf with no timetable for return, the Phillies offense will surely struggle, so while we don’t want Utley to rush things, we definitely want him back as soon as possible. Get well soon, Chase, the Phillies need you.