For the second straight season, the Philadelphia Phillies began without five-time All-Star second baseman Chase Utley, a catalyst for the team offensively and defensively. Utley is dealing with a bout of patellar tendinitis in both knees, and he has been limited in terms of which baseball activities he can do.
Utley took ground balls for the first time today, an extremely positive step in his quest to return to the field. Utley has been hitting for quite some time but he hasn’t taken the next step to actually field grounders, as it has been causing chronic pain for his knees. Utley will begin playing in minor league rehab games soon. Last year, he played in 11 minor league games before officially joining the Phillies’ big league club on May 23.
This season, Freddy Galvis has been playing second base regularly with Utley injured. Galvis is just 22 years old, and he’s extremely efficient defensively, but he is in no way the kind of offensive player Utley is. Utley is a .290/.377/.505 hitter lifetime with 188 home runs and 110 stolen bases, and he’s the kind of five-tool player (when healthy) that has helped the Phillies capture five consecutive NL East titles. Even though he missed much of last season with an injury, Utley rebounded to hit .438/.571/.688 in 21 postseason plate appearances. He batted .259/.344/.425 during the regular season with 11 home runs, 44 RBIs, and 14 stolen bases in 14 attempts in 454 plate appearances, appearing in 103 games.