MINNEAPOLIS — Wally Joyner flipped some balls to Chase Utley in an underground batting cage Wednesday afternoon and the second baseman swung away. But, later, when the team took batting practice at Target Field, Utley was still stuck behind a screen at second base.
The team has no date for Utley's return from a strained right oblique because Utley has not yet taken live batting practice. That could happen this weekend in Denver. Both player and team predicted a "mid-June" return, although that is less likely by the day. A more realistic scenario is sometime next week
Any timing is subject to chance because swinging is the most demanding test for an oblique injury. Some soreness could slow the process.
Utley will require a few minor-league games to sharpen his swing. So, too, will Carlos Ruiz. Assistant general manager Scott Proefrock offered scant details on the two injured players. He is hopeful they could begin minor-league stints before Sunday, when this road trip ends.
"They haven't told me exactly when Carlos and Utley are going to go out," Manuel said. "It's in the next few days, I'd say. Is it the next two, or three, or four? I don’t know about that."
Ruiz was active Tuesday while he tested his strained right hamstring. He rested Wednesday.
Another injured catcher, Erik Kratz, underwent surgery on his torn right meniscus in Philadelphia. The team expects him to miss up to two months.
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