If anyone in baseball is fully capable of playing through pain we all know that man is Chase Utley. He is like the Rocky of baseball. An injury that sidelines “stars” like A-roid for months Chase “You are the man!” Utley brushes off like a bee sting. But as we gear up for the second full week of Grapefruit League action and still no Chase Utley on the field I can’t help but be overly concerned. I know that all precautions are being taken and that Charlie and Ruben keep preaching that this thing is under control, but this is what scares me. No news is good news as we so often hear but no #26 through nine games this spring has me concerned.
Yesterday Utley received a cortisone injection in his right knee, and as the Phillies take on the Pirates today at Bright House Field, he is missing yet another game this spring. It has been a scary progression since the beginning of camp when he was held out of games for “general soreness.” It later turned into patellar tendinitis and now cortisone injections. There appears to be no structural damage according to an MRI Utley received but the fact that it has not gotten better is reason enough to worry.
One thing to remember is that we are still 4 weeks away from Opening Day. The positives remain that with most treatments of patellar tendinitis no surgery is needed. It is mostly treated with physical therapy and rest, the latter with which Utley is getting plenty of this spring. While he has participated in batting practice he has yet to run or field in Clearwater.
Utley played in only 115 games in 2010, the lowest of his career. Going into camp it was expected that Chase was going to be ready to go. One thing we are assured of with Chase and that is that he is a gamer. He has battled through injuries before and has always been ahead of schedule as far as the projected timetable to return. The man knows how to play through pain and he knows how to get himself back on the field when he is sidelined. He has never let an injury be the reason for low production or poor play.
Skipper Charlie Manuel has faith in the health and quick return of his second baseman. "He's getting better, it's just a matter of time until we'll be able to turn him loose more and basically get him into a game," manager Charlie Manuel said. "It's taking some time.”
Time is the thing that has been making every Phillies phan worry. The longer this thing drags on the bigger a concern it becomes.
Chase, do us all a favor and rest up. We are fully aware of your heart, your grit, and your determination to get on the field at all costs. It is what makes you who you are and what makes you so loved in the city of Brotherly Love! The truth remains that you have missed significant parts of the season in the last 4 years and at 32-years old there is no reason to risk further injury to your knee in March.
There is no rush to get back, rehab, do what it takes to get that knee feeling 110% and your spot at second base will be waiting for you whenever you are fully ready to take the field for 2011!