Phillies will limit Utley in spring training

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Phillies manager Charlie Manuel plans to limit Chase Utley's play during spring training. (David M Warren/Staff file photo)

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Last spring, Chase Utley arrived at camp with what the Phillies termed as "general soreness." It was an ominous beginning to what was a concerning season for Utley, who played in only 103 games and posted the second lowest line drive rate in baseball.

This spring, the Phillies plan on limiting Utley's activity. Better to save him, Charlie Manuel says, for September rather than abuse him in February.

"Right now he's fine," Manuel said. "But when he starts doing all of his work, there's no sense in us letting him take 100 ground balls a day and letting him hit for an hour in the cage. We're going to monitor some of that."

Utley's patellar tendinitis is not something that will go away; it's effectively an arthritic condition in his right knee, where cartilage is worn down.

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Manuel said Utley will be eased into Grapefruit League play. He does not expect his second baseman to play often early in the schedule. The idea is to preserve him.

That was philosophy Utley apparently followed this winter. Manuel said he altered his workout routine.

"He didn't talk about it a lot," Manuel said. "But he did not do any strenuous work with his knees whatsoever."

The manager said he envisions a similar plan this spring for Placido Polanco. The third baseman has also had difficulty staying on the field.

"We will definitely treat him the same way," Manuel said. "The last couple of years, he's had a hard time staying on the field. It's definitely noticeable."

Other injury notes:

- Jose Contreras said he expects to throw off a mound Tuesday for the first time. Pitching coach Rich Dubee would not confirm that but did say Contreras has looked healthy so far after elbow surgery last September. Still, the Phillies will not know Contreras' status until he proves he can pitch regularly.

- Righthander Justin De Fratus is the only other pitcher limited at the beginning of camp. De Fratus has tightness in his elbow from offseason throwing. He said he expects to be ready by opening day.


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