Sunday, February 14, 2016

Utley encouraged by progress

ST. LOUIS -- Chase Utley said he sees progress as he continues his quest to return from the knee soreness that has delayed the start of his season for the second straight year.

Utley encouraged by progress

Chase Utley has been rehabbing with the Phillies since returning from Arizona. (Richard Lipski/AP)
Chase Utley has been rehabbing with the Phillies since returning from Arizona. (Richard Lipski/AP)

ST. LOUIS -- Chase Utley said he sees progress as he continues his quest to return from the knee soreness that has delayed the start of his season for the second straight year.

"Every day, it seems like it's getting a little bit better," the Phillies second baseman said Sunday morning before the Phillies' series finale with the St. Louis Cardinals. "The last couple of days I've pushed it and increased the intensity a little bit and they have responded well, so that's a good sign in my eyes."

After taking only 10 or so groundballs before Thursday's series opener with the Cardinals, Utley handled 25 grounders Friday and around that same number Saturday. The Phillies did not take batting practice before Sunday's game, so Utley was not in the field either.

Utley said the number of ground balls he handles is not as important as the intensity with which he goes after them. He has also spent batting practice tracking balls off hitter's bats when he is not fielding fungos from the coaching staff.

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"Just to get that feel back," he said. "I'm moving a little bit quicker, a little bit harder and a little bit more."

A year ago before Utley began his rehab at single-A Clearwater, he could often be seen running hard around the bases. We have not seen that yet, but he said he uses time in the outfield to run and test his knees.

"As far as running around, shagging balls in the outfield, I kind of use that time for agility," Utley said.

Players, of course, have changed positions in the past in order to remove stress from their knees. The most notable player in Phillies history to move to the outfield for that reason was Darren Daulton in 1997.

That's not a move Utley appears to be currently considering.

"I haven't thought about it too much," he said. "All I know is my knees the last week or so have felt better than they have in a while, which is kind of what we've been working toward."

Still, there is no timetable for his return. Asked about the next step, Utley repeated that he was simply encouraged by the progress he has made in the last week. He also said he would remain with the big-league team at least through the three-game series against the New York Mets that begins Monday at Citi Field.

In the meantime, Freddy Galvis remains the second baseman and even Utley is impressed what he has seen from the 22-year-old kid.

"Freddy has done a great job, an outstanding job, better than anyone could have anticipated," Utley said. "Defensively, he's surehanded and he also has a knack for knowing where to play and being in the right positions. He has a good feel for the game and, for being his age, you don't see that too often."

Utley said he was particularly impressed with the game-saving relay throw Galvis made Friday to nail Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina at home plate.

"He didn't really panic, no rushing, it was just another relay throw (to him)," Utley said.

Worley feeling good

Righthander Vance Worley (elbow inflammation) was eligible to come off the disabled list Sunday, but he did not. He said he continues to feel good, but he does not know what his schedule is for this week. It's possible he'll throw a bullpen during the three-game series at Citi Field.

"I'm feeling good and hopefully it stays that way for a while," Worley said.


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