Utley confident he can return to form

Chase Utley's patellar tendinitis is not something that will go away. (David M Warren/Staff File Photo)

Phillies second baseman Chase Utley spoke to the assembled media at 12:30 today from the Carpenter Complex in Clearwater. He touched on his feelings from last year, the status of his knee, his injured teammates, and his plans for 2012. Here are some of the highlights:

About his knees:

"I think it's something that I'm going to have to monitor forever. It's something that I'm going to have to deal with on a daily basis, but I'm willing to put the effort in to make sure it's not an issue."

"I'm always looking for ways to improve. I haven't come to the conclusion that I need to completely change things. What I'm doing now is putting me on track to be able to contribute like I have in the past"

The stretching regimen he used to rehab the injury "seemed to work last year in terms of being able to keep me on the field."

Chase said he feels pain when working out, especially when squatting. "Squatting is not an ideal position to put it in. But once I'm on the field, it feels pretty good."

"I've talked to a few guys that have had some similar [injuries]. Some guys can't overcome it and some guys have been able to completely put it behind them. I think I can be one of the guys to put it behind me."

When asked about surgery, he said "I'm not totally convinced" that it wouldn't be needed at some point, but added, "I don't see any reason to change at this point."

"I think I can overcome this without a doubt. I have pride in the way I play, and that's not gonna change."

About last year:

"I felt we had a pretty good team. We ran into the Cardinals [in the playoffs] who were hot at the time, and they deserved to win the World Series with how they played."

"For me personally, I wasn't satisfied with how I performed, but I was happy that I was able to get on the field."

"I think we did a good job. It wasn't an ideal situation."

About his spot in the batting order going forward:

"I'm all for the team. The number one goal is to win the game. And whatever Charlie [Manuel] thinks is best, I'm gonna do it."

About Ryan Howard's Injury:

"I think over the past two or three years, we've done a good job of overcoming guys getting injured."

"You're not going to be able to just replace Ryan Howard. He's a guy that can hit 50 home runs."

"We've brought in some guys this offseaon that can definitely hold down the fort while he's out."

About this coming season:

"We are getting a little bit older, but at the same time, we're gaining more experience. And I think that experience can get us over the hump."

"We realize we aren't getting any younger. You can't gain experience unless you go through [challenging situations]. I think an experienced player can overcome a great player."

"I try to take every game the same way and try to find a way to win, whether that's to hit a home run or get a base hit or draw a walk or to get hit by a pitch." Classic Utley, looking to get hit by pitches.

Speaking of Classic Utley: when asked if he has a goal in mind for how many games he'll start, he said he did not. "And even if I did, I don't think I'd tell you," he added.


Utley closed his presser by saying "Last year's over with. I think there's still room for improvement as far as getting ready for the season. We have a few weeks to get my knee feeling better."

Clearly, he's concerned by the status of his knee going forward. And rightfully so, considering this is the sort of condition that will likely define the rest of his career. But Chase maintains that he's confident that he'll be able to tough it out and get back to the Utley of old.