Manuel 'in no hurry' to play Utley

Chase Utley speaks with Mike Schmidt at the Phillies workout on Monday. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Chase Utley will not be at second base when the Phillies open their Grapefruit League schedule Saturday against the Yankees. And it's possible Utley does not see game action for some time.

Earlier in the spring, Charlie Manuel said he planned to play Utley less during exhibition games to keep his chronically injured right knee fresher for the season. Of course, Manuel has made such proclamations about rest before, but this could actually be legitimate.

Typically, Manuel likes his regulars to have at least 70 at-bats in the spring. It appears as if he's willing to ease that requirement for Utley.

"It might be a little while before I play him," Manuel said. "I want him to keep doing his regular workouts. Right now, I'm in no hurry to play him as long as we can have him ready when the season starts. We just want him to feel good about where he's at with his practice and hitting."

Last week, Utley suggested Manuel would follow such a plan.

"We talked about he transition going into spring training and the first few weeks are going to be a little slower than normal," Utley said. "You guys might not see me on the field on a daily basis, so don’t freak out if that happens."

Third baseman Placido Polanco will also skip this weekend's play. Manuel said he'll probably start Polanco on Monday against New York. Polanco is also targeted for extra rest this spring.

The first three Grapefruit League games are against the Yankees. The pitching matchups are:

Saturday: Cole Hamels vs. Ivan Nova in Clearwater, 1:05 p.m. (CSN)
Sunday: Roy Halladay vs. Freddy Garcia in Tampa, 1:05 p.m. (MLBN)
Monday: Joe Blanton vs. Michael Pineda in Clearwater, 1:05 p.m. (TCN)

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