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Chase Utley’s status for Opening Day in doubt as he seeks “additional opinions” on knee injury

Mar 9, 2011, 9:48 AM EDT

chase utley underrated

As expected, the Phillies’ announcement this morning regarding Chase Utley‘s knee injury doesn’t contain any good news.

Team trainer Michael Ciccotti issued a statement saying that the knee problems have not responded to treatment as well as they have in the past and “an MRI was obtained that demonstrated his prior tendinitis, chondromalacia, and bone inflammation.”

Ciccotti went on to say that “continued non-operative treatment is being carried out and additional opinions will be obtained.”

In other words, the Phillies will continue to treat the injury without surgery but going under the knife (or “additional options”) may eventually be required.

Todd Zolecki of has the full statement, which includes a whole bunch of doctorspeak that’s not likely to make Phillies fans feel very good.

As for Utley’s return timetable, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes that general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. “wouldn’t rule out Opening Day … but also downplayed the importance of players being ready for Opening Day.”

Which is another way of saying Utley being in the Opening Day lineup is now unlikely and the Phillies are facing the possibility of extended middle infield action for utility man Wilson Valdez for a second straight season. Valdez started 75 games in place of Utley at second base and Jimmy Rollins at shortstop last season, hitting just .258 with a .667 OPS and remarkable 20 double plays in 363 plate appearances.

  1. BC - Mar 9, 2011 at 9:59 AM

    I don’t know what Chondromalacia is, but it doesn’t sound good. And how the heck does a BONE get inflammed? Ehhh… this doesn’t sound good.

  2. mercyflush - Mar 9, 2011 at 10:22 AM

    they should just do the surgery now (assuming that would fix the issue). the season doesn’t start for 3 weeks… they could then live without him for a month or two to start. But they cant live without him in the 2nd half and playoffs.

  3. Jeremiah Graves - Mar 9, 2011 at 10:24 AM

    I guess if I were the Phillies, I’d just move Polanco back over to 2B for the short-term and sign Joe Crede.

    Crede is a great glove man and offers the right-handed power they need in the lineup. He’s not a great hitter, he’s not a great (heck, he’s barely a good) OBP kinda guy, but he can mash and he can flash the leather.

    He also won’t cost ’em any prospects from a team who wants to fleece the suddenly desperate Phillies.

    • paperlions - Mar 9, 2011 at 10:42 AM

      Crede signed a minor league deal with the Rockies….and he most certainly can not mash, and he’s a horrible OBP guy (career .304). Since 2006 he has been all glove.

      • Jeremiah Graves - Mar 9, 2011 at 10:46 AM

        He opted out of that deal a while back:

        I’m not saying it’s the world’s greatest solution. Going into a time machine and bringing back vintage Mike Schmidt is the greatest solution. It is, however, a decent short-term option that wouldn’t cost ’em any players and would likely just require signing Crede to a minor league deal.

        Plus the dude still has some pop (as of our last glimpse of him in the bigs), so that figures to play well in Philly.

      • paperlions - Mar 9, 2011 at 12:20 PM

        Oops, I didn’t realize he opted out of that. Still, making outs over 70% of the time does not play well no matter where you call home. There is a reason he didn’t play with anyone last year and a reason he still hasn’t been offered a single major league deal in 2 years.
        He is an option, but he isn’t a good one.

    • Utley's Hair - Mar 9, 2011 at 11:26 AM

      I understand that Placido was a second bagger before, but switching a regular guy from position to position for more than a game here and there can’t be a good option. I will say this: Ryne Sandberg signed with the Phightins a few months back, so, there’s that…?

    • Jonny 5 - Mar 9, 2011 at 11:37 AM

      Naaaa, they have Wilson Valdez for leather flashing already. If they sign someone it has to be for the bat, or both. Now there’s the issue of Jimmy Rollins remaining healthy. It changes everything if Rollins gets injured. Valdez is good defensively but he can’t cover short and 2nd base at the same time. I wouldn’t say the Phills are desperate, not yet anyway. They do have another guy to fill in, Harold Garcia.

      • Utley's Hair - Mar 9, 2011 at 12:34 PM

        Hey, Jonny, don’t forget that Samuel’s over at third, and Sandberg just needs a couple bucks for the Mid County tolls so he can zip down the NE Extension.

      • Jonny 5 - Mar 9, 2011 at 12:47 PM

        Ha!! Sandberg back on 2nd… That would be so damn cool wouldn’t it? Well for a game or two anyway…..

      • macjacmccoy - Mar 10, 2011 at 7:52 PM


  4. seanmk - Mar 9, 2011 at 10:42 AM

    surgery isn’t needed, he’ll be fine. the treatment for what he has if that’s what it is, is doing nothing, but we as fans NEED to see action and results to think something is being done to treat it. opening day is weeks away and it doesn’t really matter that he’s there by then anyway. just glad he’ll drop in fantasy leagues

  5. apbaguy - Mar 9, 2011 at 11:24 AM

    I’m not a doctor, nor did I play one on TV, but fortunately with internet I can quote an actual doctor:

    “Chondromalacia is due to an irritation of the undersurface of the kneecap… the damage from chondromalacia is thought to be capable of repair…The treatment of chondromalacia remains controversial, but most individuals can undergo effective treatment by resting the knee and adhering to a proper physical therapy program. ” (from Jonathan Cluett, M.D.)

    Two problems: the Phils are claiming Utley has basically the same issues a lot of runners get. These problems normally go away without cortisone shots, in fact, Cluett’s article specifically calls for non-steroidal treatments (cortisone is a steroid).

    Second, if these problems don’t go away, the next step is an arthroscopic exam, which they’ve been putting off since last year. This procedure will keep him out about 3-4 weeks, but at this point, with the condition not improving, every day’s delay is another day wasted.

    • BC - Mar 9, 2011 at 11:29 AM


  6. mdpickles - Mar 9, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    C’mon MLB..Utley is a great guy and ballplayer, can’t you make an exception and let him take some HGH to fix his chondromalacia??

    • paperlions - Mar 9, 2011 at 12:22 PM

      HGH has yet to be tied to any ability to heal or heal faster in adults with normal HGH levels. So, while they could make an exception, the effect would be nil….just like in the dozens of clinical trials.

  7. cur68 - Mar 9, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    Chondromalacia is also known as “Runner’s Knee”. Not uncommon in young healthy athletes (actually more common in girls than boys. This explains the hair fetish I suppose). He’ll get over it with the proper treatment. Only RARELY does the condition require surgery, even scoping of the knee. The more you cut the joint the longer it takes to heal, the increased chances of early arthritis etc. This now calls that cortisone shot into question; it’s contraindicated (that is; DO NOT TREAT RUNNERS KNEE WITH STEROIDS). NSAIDs all the way. The trouble may have been the diagnosis of “Jumper’s Knee” that was first put out there. THAT responds well to cortisone. The two conditions, while possessing similar features, are not really the same (dependent of who you ask of course; there’s always someone who’ll say otherwise) but are difficult to tell apart. What to do depends on how much inflammation exists under the kneecap. No matter what; resting the joint for a few weeks will greatly improve it. Good luck Chase Utley; your natural talent and instinctive ball playing were a treat to behold.

    • Utley's Hair - Mar 9, 2011 at 11:54 AM

      So…Advil? Tylenol? Hell, my kid’ll give up his Advil and Tylenol if it’ll help!!!! WOOHOO!!!!!

      • cur68 - Mar 9, 2011 at 12:23 PM

        Any kind of ibuprofen should do it but there’s always one brand that works better for some and not for others. (voltaren & mobic are also options I think. His actual physician will be on top of this, don’t worry about that). He needs to do a lot of stretching, gentle squats, low gear cycling, swimming, with lots of ice after, then re-warming of the joint and LOTS of rest, then repeat for a few weeks. I don’t think a credible arthro doc would want to cut into him, even for a scope, without first a lot of sonar to determine if there’s anything worth going after (since you need to physically lift the knee cap sonar works better than MRI since for an MRI you have to be totally still). This is strictly inflammation under the kneecap. There is NOTHING to cut out and no one has said there’s damage to the cartilage or bone. This is actually good news; unlike Beltran’s knee(s) which may well need to be replaced with titanium at this point.

      • Utley's Hair - Mar 9, 2011 at 12:42 PM

        Strap a brace on there (or aircast, maybe?) and rest up, Chase. Get Jen to get your sammiches and Lager. Oh, wait…maybe Jen wouldn’t be the best option here. Any ugly chicks out there willing to wait on Chase while he recovers?

      • seeingwhatsticks - Mar 9, 2011 at 3:37 PM

        I had a similar problem a few years ago where my knee cap tracked to the side causing it to go bone on bone. When it was off it would feel like my knee was locked, it would hurt like hell, and if that happened too often over a short period of time the whole knee would hurt. The problem compounds on itself and the more you do it the worse it gets, but at the same time if you’re not working those muscles you’re not fixing the problem. The trick is to find ways to stretch and exercise that don’t put any stress on the knee itself. The big problem for me was having my leg bear weight while it was bent at the knee, so up and down stairs were brutal (and if I had to do up and down a lot, like say to do laundry, that’s when the whole thing would hurt). Cur is 100% right on the treatment and it worked well over a period of 6 weeks or so, though my problems were based on a muscle imbalance in the quad.

        Non-surgical options seem like the best treatment. For now. Unfortunately if it’s not a muscle imbalance issue it could be that his cartilage has deteriorated, which would be really really bad news. That’s when you start getting into micro-fracture and joint replacement, which would kill his season and more than likely end his career (at least at 2b).

      • cur68 - Mar 9, 2011 at 3:56 PM

        Sticky, that description of your knee made me wince. Well played.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Mar 9, 2011 at 4:12 PM

        It was unpleasant, to say the least. First couple times it happened was playing pickup hoops where I’d jump up for a rebound or to block a shot, and I’d land it would feel like my knee was locked up. I thought I’d blown out my knee and was pretty scared.

  8. JB (the original) - Mar 9, 2011 at 1:04 PM

    Tart Cherry Juice baby!

  9. rapmusicmademedoit - Mar 9, 2011 at 7:10 PM

    I don’t really like him, I hate the Filthdephia Filthies, but I have to say he has wonderful hair, I love the way it shines on a late afternoon in late July, it makes you feel all warm inside as he rounds second base
    on his way to sliding into third.I also love the bounce and flexibility his hair has as he straightens up from his slide and rises to his feet.

    • cur68 - Mar 9, 2011 at 9:11 PM

      that was…disturbing…

      • Utley's Hair - Mar 9, 2011 at 9:37 PM

        To say the least. My cringe reflex is always at the ready when I see that handle.

  10. lucasatkin - Mar 9, 2011 at 9:17 PM

    I literally just finished my physio to treat patellar tendinitis. I did it playing soccer, which I would argue is more strenuous on the knee than baseball. I was told not to play for a month while doing rehab work – mainly swimming and cycling to stretch it out, but nothing impact-based – and it is now healed. Someone tell him that.

  11. bigjeter - Mar 10, 2011 at 2:07 AM

    I have had inflammation in the knee a couple of times. There is little you can do. The bone gets fluid in the tip which makes it soft. If you jar it, you can cave in the top and it must be replaced. My concern is that there is some more serious underlying reason the inflammation and chlamidia occurred. I’m guessing it will end in surgery, and maybe not just a scope. I hope not.

    • cur68 - Mar 10, 2011 at 2:35 PM

      bigjeter; I also think there’s more going on however all reports are that the main issue is under the kneecap. But, er…I think you mean “chondromalacia” and not “chlamidia”. There are those who I’m sure wish it was just the clap because a simple course of penicillin will clear it up. However I doubt Chase’s wife number among them. And there’s no surgical intervention for treating the clap, either and no, draining an abscess does not treat chlamidia.

  12. macjacmccoy - Mar 10, 2011 at 7:43 PM

    If I was the Phillies I would do nothing. Everyone getting all worried needs to relax there are a 162 games in the season who cares if he misses opening day or opening week or even opening month. Valdez played great last year in relief and Barfield looks good. So if they had to platoon a lil to start the season no big deal the Phillies would still have enough production in the lineup to win behind the quality pitching they should have. I mean every year 3 or 4 teams or on the outside of the playoffs looking in come july then they go get a player who makes there team a contender. So even if he misses all of April and then comes back the Phillies would still have an extra 2 months on theses teams that will have to wait to july to get that difference maker while they would basically get theres in may. Now they dont wanna go all season or into the playoffs (if they make it) without him in that lineup but were talking about April, APRIL? , were talking about April.

    • cur68 - Mar 10, 2011 at 8:31 PM

      Yup, mac, that’s what I got, too. Probably take 6 weeks to get the knee back to normal. It’ll likely flare again during the season. Injecting lubricant under the kneecap will really help prevent this.

  13. Utley's Hair - Mar 10, 2011 at 10:17 PM

    Ever hear the adage (not exactly sure of the exact wording, but it’s something to the effect of) “You can’t win a division in April, but you can lose it.”

    • cur68 - Mar 10, 2011 at 10:26 PM

      Did you notice bigjeter 4 posts up has your boy down with the clap? I think he was working his way through “chondromalacia” and got tired so went with “chlamidia”. More treatable than chondromalacia but the The Slick One’s wife’d probably put him on the D/L for a few months subsequent. Kinda thing might cost a fella more’n the division.

      • Utley's Hair - Mar 10, 2011 at 10:39 PM

        First he’s shooting up ‘roids—well the doc is, what with the cortisone shot and all—and now the clap? WTF?!? Nah…my guess is jeter just got distracted trying to type whatever the hell that knee thing is. At least I hope he did, ’cause who knows? He might catch something from A-Fraud.

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