Progress in Utley, but it is slow and secretive

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Chase Utley has progressed to fielding "light ground balls" as his right knee heals. (David M Warren/Staff Photographer)

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The updates, for now, will remain nebulous. Chase Utley's right knee has progressed, albeit slowly, the Phillies say. He is able to take "light ground balls" but there is no running.

There is no timetable for his return, but Utley says it is a goal to return before the All-Star break. Utley said he has seen "more than a few" doctors and would not disclose the identity of some rehab specialists he has consulted. ("If I tell you I have to kill you," Utley said.)

Why so secretive?

"I don't know," Utley said. "You guys know me by now, right?"

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Utley's public face does not differ when discussing a walk-off home run or an injury that could threaten his season. His privacy is paramount and the Phillies are adhering to it.

The second baseman accompanied the team on its charter flight to Philadelphia on Monday night. He will remain with the team while on the disabled list so he can continue his rehab program — whatever it may entail — with the Phillies athletic training staff.

"There are some positive signs," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "Again, it's going to be a slow process and we're going to have to be patient with him. But at the very least, we're having more positive progressions and that's better than going backward."

Amaro said Utley is not a candidate for the 60-day disabled list, so take that for what it's worth.

LEE THROWS. Cliff Lee pitched three innings in a simulated intrasquad game at the Carpenter Complex. He was supposed to pitch against Pirates minor leaguers but they did not make the trip because of weather concerns. So instead, he pitched against some Phillies minor leaguers. No one ran the bases.

The Phillies had Lee face minor leaguers because they did not want the Astros to get a look at him before his scheduled Saturday start against Houston.


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