Game 12: Positive injury news on Utley, Howard

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Chase Utley has started to do light jogging drills under the watchful eye of trainer Scott Sheridan. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

WASHINGTON -- Five hours before Thursday's series finale here, Scott Sheridan watched Chase Utley do some light running around the infield and some shuttle drills.

Two hours later, Sheridan took a seat directly behind the batting cage in the dugout tunnel to watch Ryan Howard swing a bat.

Utley, of course, remains sidelined for an indefinite period of time with the chronic pain in his right knee despite his increased work with the Phillies' head athletic trainer. Beginning to run is an obvious sign of progress.

The news on Howard was encouraging, too. He had an X-Ray done on his right wrist following Wednesday's game when he was hit by a John Lannan pitch there. The X-Ray was negative and Howard batted cleanup Thursday with a small guard protecting the area.

Poll

What is the most worrisome injury?

"If it was hit on the bone, I wouldn't be playing," Howard said.

As for Utley, the patellar tendinitis, chondromalacia and bone inflammation have kept him from doing any baseball activity other than hitting and fielding ground balls from a fixed position. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said at the end of spring training that Utley was not a candidate for the 60-day disabled list because the team hoped for a return before then.

An exact date is not certain.

"He's driving the train," assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said.

That means the rehab is going at Utley's pace. Of late, he has made more lateral movement while participating in fielding drills. But all indications are that this remains a slow process.

"He's progressing as he can tolerate," Proefrock said. "He obviously felt good enough to do something more than he had be doing. Again, every time he does something he hasn't done in the past, the next day is when you find out how it's tolerating."

***

The lineups:

Phillies
1. Shane Victorino 8
2. Placido Polanco 5
3. Jimmy Rollins 6
4. Ryan Howard 3
5. Ben Francisco 9
6. Raul Ibanez 7
7. Carlos Ruiz 2
8. Wilson Valdez 4
9. Cliff Lee 1

Nationals
1. Ian Desmond 6
2. Rick Ankiel 8
3. Jayson Werth 9
4. Adam LaRoche 3
5. Wilson Ramos 2
6. Michael Morse 7
7. Danny Espinosa 4
8. Jerry Hairston Jr. 5
9. Jordan Zimmermann 1


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