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Chase Utley leaves Phillies camp to see knee specialist, “doubtful” for Opening Day

Mar 19, 2012, 10:47 AM EDT

utley ap AP

Chase Utley kept sitting out games and the Phillies kept insisting it was precautionary and simply an effort to keep him from wearing down during the long regular season, but now it’s clear his chronic knee problems are a much bigger issue than the team was letting on.

Utley has left Phillies camp and will see a specialist following what general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. called a “plateau” in his rehab process.

Here’s more from Amaro, who revealed that Utley is now experiencing problems in both knees:

Chase’s rehab process has come to a bit of a plateau. He has made some strides but not enough to take the field.  He is headed out of town for a few days to be evaluated by a specialist that has helped athletes overcome his issue.  We anticipate that this trip will allow him to build on what he has already done with [athletic trainer] Scott Sheridan in order to get over the hump.  He wants more than anything to be on the field with his teammates and we believe that this is a step in that direction.

That all sounds fine and reasonable, but Amaro and the Phillies have been less than forthcoming about Utley’s situation and have also painted a more optimistic picture than reality indicates with Ryan Howard‘s comeback from a torn Achilles’ tendon. In other words, don’t be shocked if the specialist determines that Utley has suffered a setback.

Amaro admitted that Utley will almost surely begin the season on the disabled list, which means slick-fielding 22-year-old rookie Freddy Galvis will be the Opening Day second baseman despite a measly .613 OPS in the minors that includes just 33 games at Triple-A. Utley is under contract for $15 million this season and $15 million next season, and of course Howard’s five-year, $125 million contract extension doesn’t even start until this season.

  1. ame123 - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    Galvis was 21 and put up .716 in AA and AAA last season. But lets average in his numbers as a 17 year old anyway, since it makes him look worse.

  2. aceshigh11 - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    Knee problems suck. I have recurring issues with my left knee from years of martial arts and running.

    I wouldn’t wish knee issues on anybody, because unlike other parts of the body, you really can’t “rest it” unless you have the luxury of sitting in bed for weeks at a time. When it’s bad, every step you take hurts and it just gnaws at you psychically.

    Best of luck to the guy.

  3. Old Gator - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    Homeboy loyalties aside, I hope it’s a tractable problem in the end. You hate to see a great ballplayer kept on the shelf over stuff like this.

    • 78mu - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:23 AM

      That’s the truth Gator. I would hope every baseball fans can appreciate talent even though we may be fans of other teams. And when you have a talented player like CU and a good guy you really have to hope he recovers and gets back on the field.

      • ajcardsfan - Mar 19, 2012 at 3:23 PM

        Well, you can tell who I root for via my name. But I hope the guy gets well for multiple reason, one is I know what knee problems are like, and two I had hoped he’d be well and recruited him for my fantasy team. Obviously, the latter is my selfish reason. Get well Chase!

      • Old Gator - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:53 PM

        Most of all, one goes to the ballpark to see great players play great baseball. It’s great when your team wins but it’s greater if they have to beat the best to do it.

  4. Jonny 5 - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    I was wondering why he didn’t have surgery in the off season for this. I wonder that even more so now.

    • ame123 - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:14 AM

      Because his condition cannot be fixed by a surgery.

      • Jonny 5 - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:41 AM

        Yes it can. He was diagnosed with Patellar tendonitis and chondromalacia. With the latter more than likely giving him the most discomfort. They don’t normally, but since his career depends on his knee, they may need to do it since “resting it” isn’t working well enough.

        http://orthopedics.about.com/cs/patelladisorders/a/chondromalacia.htm

      • xmatt0926x - Mar 19, 2012 at 12:35 PM

        Johnny5, you may be right but it’s not a certainty. From all the articles I’ve read about Utley’s issue it seems that surgery isn’t a surefire fix for this. There could be no improvement from the surgery. That’s my understanding of the issue and why he elected not to have surgery last year. I’m certainly no expert.

  5. pkswally024 - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    Time for him to become a DH somewhere

  6. badmamainphilliesjamas - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

    • 78mu - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:31 PM

      Assume crash position.

  7. randygnyc - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    Charlie said last week that Chase’s condition WILL NOT GET BETTER. With that said, his career may be over. At the very least, he will be a shell of his former self, offensively. The recent attempt to cover this up, and Charlie’s recent bombshell revelations are extremely disturbing. Hope he invested wisely.

  8. cup0pizza - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    Old people break down and become worthless, as Utley proves.

    • ame123 - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:36 AM

      And some people were always worthless, as your post proves.

  9. sdelmonte - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:42 AM

    This is all sounding like the sort of spin we get from the Mets (Ike Davis just last year, and maybe Wright right now). It makes me wonder if the current culture of how baseball handles injury needs a broader adjustment when an organization as with-it as the Phils is sounding like the also-rans.

    • ame123 - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:51 AM

      Its about negotiation leverage. If you tell people your star 2nd baseman might be out all season, the price of trading for 2nd basemen around the league will go way up.

  10. deathmonkey41 - Mar 19, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    I will volunteer to let Chase Utley’s wife stay at my place if he’s going to need significant time recovering from surgery.

  11. davebrownspiral - Mar 19, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    How are the Phillies scoring runs this year? With the Marlins and Nats younger, and more talanted overall than the aging, broken down Phils, perhaps a changing of the guard in the NL East this year.

    • Jonny 5 - Mar 19, 2012 at 12:19 PM

      BOOOOO!!!

    • xmatt0926x - Mar 19, 2012 at 12:47 PM

      I don’t disagree that the Phillies will have some struggles, but lets hold off on the parades for the Nats and Fish for a bit. Let’s see if the marlins have any pitching outside of Josh Johnson. Hell, let’s see if they even have Josh Johnson for more than a few weeks. Let’s see if the golden shortstop can run a ball out without popping his hamstring. Sometimes you don’t need age to be injury prone. I like the Nats as an up and coming franchise but again, lets see it happen with consistency first. Let’s give a winning season a shot before we give them the division. Will Strasburg get through the season or is he Kerry Wood? Can Jason Werth get up to .250? Maybe he can and maybe all good things happen for these teams but lets see it in July and August before we say the Phillies run is over.

  12. leerosenthall - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    This news is so depressing if you’re a fan, which I am. But I knew they were hiding just how bad the situation is with Utley. I’ve got to believe Ruben is negotiating behind the scenes for an everyday second baseman. Especially with Uncle Cholly out there telling everybody that Freddie GALvees is the best thing since sliced bread. (For the record, I like the kid a LOT but he’s no replacement for Utley, not yet anyway.*)

    *Of course, LITERALLY, while I’m typing this, Galvis just hit a two-run TRIPLE to rigth-center. Woo-HOO! Maybe Cholly ain’t bluffing!

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