Monday, August 31, 2015

Utley says he's not injured

Chase Utley is not injured.

Utley says he's not injured

Chase Utley insists that a knee injury is not the cause of his slump. (AP Photo / Matt Slocum)
Chase Utley insists that a knee injury is not the cause of his slump. (AP Photo / Matt Slocum)

Chase Utley is not injured.

Those words came straight from the mouth of the Phillies' second baseman before Friday night's game against the Minnesota Twins.

As Utley's batting average has continued on a downward spiral for the last month, speculation has grown that the four-time All-Star has been playing hurt.

During an interview last week in Boston with Baseball Prospectus, Phillies first base coach Davey Lopes said one of the reasons the team's stolen-base attempts were down this season "Chase has been hampered by a little bit of a knee injury."

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That became a smoking gun and Utley addressed the issue Friday in the Phillies' dugout at Citizens Bank Park.

"I actually feel pretty good," he said. "I think there was a little confusion and a little difference in opinion in what Davey said. In my opinion, an injury is something that keeps you off the field. When you play 162 games-plus a year, you're going to have aches and pains. That's part of this game, that's part of being a baseball player and it's something you have to deal with. In my opinion, there's no injury whatsoever."

Utley conceded that he has had soreness in his right knee at times this season, but he doesn't believe that's why he has had problems at the plate. He was hitting .177 (17-for-96) with one home run and four RBIs in his 27 games going into the series opener with the Twins. His average was sitting at a season-low .257 before the game.

"I don't see a correlation," Utley said. "Obviously you want to try to find an excuse for why I'm not swinging the bat that well and there is not excuse. It has been a little bit of a battle here the past month. I'm just trying to make some adjustments, tinker with some things. It's part of baseball. It's something you have to deal with. It's something I've been through before and a lot of people have to deal with it. Like I said before, I'm doing everything I can to try to get back on track."

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro also downplayed Utley's injury status.

"If you ask 100 percent of these guys maybe 99 percent would say they have some kind of ailment or soreness," Amaro said.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel echoed the GM, saying "if you play baseball every day year around more than likely you're going to be sore."

Manuel said if Utley needed a day off he'd give the second baseman a day off, but that is not the case.

Amaro said he hasn't spoken to Lopes about his comment to Baseball Prospectus, but he made it clear that the first-base coach should not speak about injuries.

"All I can say is that Davey is not our spokesman for the medical staff," Amaro said. "That comes from me or (assistant GM) Scott Proefrock or (trainer) Scott Sheridan or (team physician) Dr. Ciccotti. This is not an injury. This is more preventative."

Rollins update

Shortstop Jimmy Rollins was scheduled to play nine innings Friday for single-A Clearwater as he continues his rehab from a strained calf muscle. Amaro said Rollins will play nine innings again Saturday.

"We haven't decided yet," Amaro said. "We'll see how he feels. He indicated to us that he thought he might need some more at-bats and, if that's the case, he'll get more at-bats."

In other injury news, reliever Ryan Madson threw 25 pitches in the bullpen after receiving medical clearance. Madson has been on the disabled list since the end of April with a fractured toe.

Inquirer Columnist
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