While the Phillies wrap up spring training in Philadelphia, Chase Utley is heading to Arizona taking the next step in his return from knee trouble.
In consultation with the Phillies medical staff, Utley will work with his personal therapist in Phoenix beginning Wednesday. The hope, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said, is that Utley would join the team some time during its trip out to the west coast. The 10-game road swing begins April 16 in San Francisco and also includes stops in San Diego and Arizona. Just because Utley would meet up with the team, however, doesn't necessarily mean he's simply going to be in the lineup.
"He's been progressing pretty well; (we want) to build on the progressions he's made," Amaro said. "I'm not sure quite how long he's going to be there. But he'll be there to do more intensive, one-on-one work with Brett Fischer and his group out there."
Utley hasn't done any baseball-related activity since early spring. He has been hampered by chondromalacia, a deterioration of the cartilage behind his left kneecap. Rookie Freddy Galvis will start at second base.
First baseman Ryan Howard (left Achilles), utility infielder Michael Martinez (right foot) and pitchers Justin De Fratus (right elbow) and Jose Contreras (right elbow) will join Utley on the disabled list to start the season. Reliever Michael Stutes (right shoulder) was due to pitch on Tuesday and a decision of his status could come by the end of the night.
Utley was in Arizona two weeks ago to see specialist Brett Fischer, who has worked with many other athletes, including former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.
Utley has said Fischer provided new stretching techniques, along with a new program of "manual therapy." He started implementing the new routine after he left Arizona.
"As you know, Chase doesn't like to be a distraction and he thinks this is the best way to not be one," Amaro said. "But we're looking forward to getting him back when he's feeling better. He's progressing well and we just want to build on it."
Amaro said he had nothing to say about the Cole Hamels' negotiations, especially in the aftermath of the contract that the Giants' Matt Cain agreed to yesterday.
"You can ask it as many ways as you want," Amaro said.
Hamels pitches tonight in the final exhibition game against the Pirates.
Here is the lineup for tonight's game with Shane Victorino in the leadoff spot. Juan Pierre and Freddy Galvis both have the night off. John Mayberry starts in left and Pete Orr at second.
Shane Victorino, CF
Placido Polanco, 3B
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Hunter Pence, RF
Laynce Nix, 1B
John Mayberry Jr., LF
Carlos Ruiz, C
Pete Orr, 2B
Cole Hamels, P