So When Do We Start Freaking Out About Chase Utley?

Chase_utley_fielding_knee


Photo courtesy St. Pete Beach Photo

Today? Perhaps tomorrow? On May 5 when Chase hasn’t had a Major League at-bat yet?

When?

Here’s what Chase Utley said during a press conference on February 23:

“[The knee] feels significantly better. The goal for me is to stay in one place and improve in small increments and not try to irritate it to the point where I have to slow down.”

“We talked about the transition going into spring training. The first few weeks are going to be a little slower than normal. You guys might not see me on the field on a daily basis, so don’t freak out if that happens. The whole goal is to move in a positive direction.”

 

Positive direction– got it

That is why today’s update from Ruben Amaro further perplexes me about the supposedly healthyish Utley, who is most likely going to battle chronic patellar tendinitis and chondromalacia in his right knee for the rest of his career.

Amaro told beat reporters – most of whom passed along the GM's message about a player who, last year, had his “body soreness” turn into two months on the disabled list and a career-changing knee injury with little skepticism – that the Phillies have been “keeping [Utley] off his feet.” 

No shit. 

Philly.com’s Matt Gelb and Delco Times reporter Ryan Lawrence add some color to that most cryptic of statements.

Gelb: [Philly.com

“Utley has also been elusive during workouts. He has taken regular batting practice with his teammates but rarely completed infield work. Amaro expects Utley, who is attempting to manage a chronically injured right knee, to play at some point this spring.”

 

Lawrence: [Delco Times]

“But it is notable that Utley's workload has seemed to decrease since camp started. He's rarely seen taking ground balls with the rest of the team during pregame batting practice.” 

 

The fact that Utley is taking batting practice more than fielding practice isn’t surprising. His issue is irritated by flexing his knee, a movement that is less present when batting as opposed to fielding. So that makes sense. But why, then, has Chase Utley not had one at-bat during spring training? And why is there still no real timetable for his return

Yes, Manuel, Amaro and Utley all said that Chase wouldn’t see much time at the beginning of spring training. Utley said not to “freak out.”

Got that, too

But maybe we should freak out.

Utley opted for strengthening and rehabbing as opposed to surgery last year. Now there’s no turning back. Utley is going to deal with this injury for the rest of his career, and while decreasing his workload in spring training makes a lot of sense, it’s odd (to say the least) that, two weeks ago, a player who was “feeling better” and ready to "move in a positive direction” has, seemingly, taken a step back. A back-step. A setback?

Amaro told reporters that the Phillies would like Utley to get 30-40 at-bats before the season begins, a feat that could easily be achieved by having the second baseman hop in and out of minor league games, which begin next Monday and have no limits on substitutions. 

Got that, as well. 

Still, though, Utley is never going to be more well-rested than he is at the beginning of March. So why keep delaying his return to the field? Why the decrease in workload? 

Why?

Why? 

Why?

No one from the Phillies is denying that Utley is bothered, to some degree, by his knee problem. But, like last year, the team seems to be downplaying its severity. Chase hasn't played in a game since October, yet he still can't get an at-bat against live pitching? That doesn't make any sense.

Whatever the case, Chase admitted to not performing many strenuous leg workouts this offseason, such as squatting, an exercise that puts quite a bit of strain on any knee, let alone an irritable one. He instead opted to strengthen other muscles: his hamstrings, core and, much to the delight of ladies and most of you guys, his butt

But, the fact that Utley will forever have to sacrifice lower-body strength to manage his knee problem is the real issue here, whether he returns tomorrow or in July. His surprising power has always come from his legs and core. You need to look no further than a ninth inning fly ball that fell just short of tying Game 5 of the NLDS as an example of how much difference a little bit of extra strength could make for a player like Utley. Strength which will likely never be present again. 

And that freaks me out.

28 Comments

  1. Which explains why future Hall of Famer Freddy Galvis is playing second I suppose.

  2. Phillies are old news, and no one really cares about them anymore, fuck em.

  3. left knee, right knee, which is it?

  4. I call BS on this. I can’t see how a Spring Training start is strenuous. They are showered and home by the time the fans have had a chance to get drunk at Frenchy’s.

  5. my apologies, right knee. fixed.

  6. ThePhillyFlash

    March 9, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    We all knew going into 2012 that Utley and his bad knee were going to be a considerable concern if not a flat out problem. The fact he’s done next to nothing so far is of no surprise to me, but then, we’re only talking about spring training, not mid-June. I’d rather Utley take things nice and S-L-O-W regarding his rehab and be ready to go when he’s ready and not before. Sure, he’s never going to be the force he once was, we knew that too, but as long as he can contribute, both at the plate and in the field, that’s good enough for me.

  7. Panicking Phllies Fan

    March 9, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

  8. What was done in off-season before Spring Training to prepare himself for this upcoming year? It seems like nothing, which is a concern…but again its sooo early and a long season, I am not freaking just yet….

  9. Oh NO!!! Chase isn’t playing a month before the games start to count. Nothing to see here, move along. He’ll be fine when they land in Pittsburgh in a month.
    If he was playing, you’d be saying “Why is he playing in meaningless games with a bad knee when he only knows how to play all-out, even in ST games?”
    Carry on

  10. OneManWolfpack

    March 9, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    I didn’t think it would be this bad after a whole off season of rehabbing or whatever began do it to get his knee in better shape. Better win that 2nd (with this group) title this year cause he aint gonna be around much longer

  11. 3 Finger Lenny

    March 9, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Char should platoon chase this yr.
    I have a chronically bad right knee & it’s no joke. It’s tough to get out of bed some days.

  12. ILLY PHANS UNITE, YO!
    It’s the first week of March. Utley likes to play absolutely as much as possible during the regular season. Let him sit until the last week of March, so long as he’s still taking BP to get his timing down. Hell… Let him sit through April if it’s going to keep him in the line up through October. We have a bench this year consisting of MORE THAN Michael Martinez. Slide Polly over to 2nd, throw Willie in at th… oh wait… Valdez is no longer a Phillie… So, choose between Galvis and Polly at second. If Polly, throw Nix, Wiggs, or… I guess as a last resort, Minnie Mart over on the hot corner. Shouldn’t have let Valdez walk. Such an asset defensively…

  13. @lenny, 3 fingers, 1 knee, no brain… there’s always hope, stay strong man, stay strong.

  14. Hexy'sBaldSpot

    March 9, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    2009?

  15. JohnnyRockets27

    March 9, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    The fact that amaro didnt go out and grab at least one infielder like reyes or ramirez for example baffles me. this teams infield is old and injury prone. NONE of them can hit anymore. when rollins is your best infielder on both sides of the ball theres a problem. this team is going to be carried by its pitching and hunter pence. not good. if they make it past the NLDS this year we should have a parade. i have lost absolutely every bit of love for utley rollins and howard.

  16. “The fact that amaro didnt go out and grab at least one infielder like reyes or ramirez for example baffles me.”
    Lol. Cause it’s so easy and cheap to do that.

  17. Why would anyone freak out about Chase not being able to play. He sucks. Won’t play hurt. Clearly on the downside of his overrated career.

  18. Thomas E Merschen

    March 9, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Bad knee. Bad fucking knee.

  19. @capt jack- the numbers don’t lie from the last couple years. I would love to fuck his wife though

  20. M. Clevon - The Beast

    March 9, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Utley is still a .300, 35HR, 100rbi, 100 run guy when healthy.

  21. Any chance Utley gets traded? Maybe that’s why they are holding him out of the lineup? My pussy lips are wet thinking about getting rid of him.

  22. 3 Finger Lenny

    March 9, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    If chase was African American, this city would not be putting up with his declining numbers & chronic knee.

  23. @captain jack- fuck off! When healthy he is the best 2nd basemen in the NL.

  24. but he ain’t healthy, and probably never will be again, so……

  25. 3 Finger Lenny P

    March 10, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Chronic knees is fucking joke.
    Chirp

  26. But they have already explained why. As this is an injury that doesn’t go away their hope is less Spring Training will preserve Utley for September and October.

  27. It is odd that 2 years in a row after an offseason he showed up needing to rest the knee. Well it isn’t going to get any better once the season starts. In theory this should be the best his knee will feel all season. Looking back he should have gotten the surgery back in Nov 2010. It’d have cost him most of last season, but at least we would have known then if surgery could have helped.
    The argument for why the lineup would be better this year hinged on a whole year of Pence and hopefully a more healthy Utley for an entire season. The upgrades they made to the bench will help around the margins. But without Howard for likely 2+ months and Utley still ailing, I just think we’ll see more of the same inconsistent lineup.

  28. I was lucky enough to see Cher on 17th September.She was amaizng. I even got to touch her hand. (She gave me a low 5!) How cool is that?ld of been gutted if I had missed out on that but would not have held it against her. You can tell she really cares about her fans and sure she would not have cancelled any show unless she really had to. Get well soon Cher and hopefully see you again next year. xxx

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