Chase Utley will have right hip surgery, and will miss the next four to six months.
The Phillies said in a news release that since the end of the World Series, Utley "has had several diagnostic studies in regards to right hip symptoms that he had during the 2008 season." He has been evaluated by team physician Michael Ciccotti at the Rothman Institute at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Dr. Bryan Kelly at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.
The release said, "Based on the diagnostic studies and examinations, it has been recommended that Utley have surgery on his right hip, which is scheduled for next week. The procedure will be an arthroscopic evaluation with treatment of any labral or bony injury. The recovery will allow for the initiation of baseball activities between three and four months, however, the total recovery time may require four to six months."
Four to six months means Utley could be back as early as the beginning of the season and as late as June.
I asked Ruben Amaro Jr. about Utley's hip last week. He said, "There's really not much to say about it, other than we're monitoring it." Asked about any scheduled surgeries, Amaro said: "Not at this time. At least at this time we don't view it as an issue."
Turns out it was.
Amaro just said on a conference call with reporters that he doesn't expect Utley's injury to change the way he approaches the off-season.
"You don’t necessarily replace an Utley, but at the same time we really feel … he’s going to be fairly close to ready, if not ready, by opening day," Amaro said. "A lot of it depends on how the rehab goes, how the surgery goes. This is not an exact science. But we fully expect to have Chase Utley with us for the bulk of the season, so I’d have to say frankly as far as how we go about our business with our club, it probably won’t change significantly.”
But if Utley is not ready to play by the April 5 season opener against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies think they have at least two in-house options that can play second base until Utley returns. Eric Bruntlett filled in for shortstop Jimmy Rollins early this season, when Rollins spent time on the disabled list with a sprained ankle. He obviously has big-league experience. Jason Donald, one of the team’s top prospects, also is an option. He is hitting .407 with 12 doubles, two triples, five home runs and 17 RBIs in the Arizona Fall League. His 1.223 on-base-plus-slugging percentage is second in the league.
The Phillies could bring in another infielder, but if they do it would be more of a utility player.
Pedro Feliz will have back surgery.
Feliz will have low back surgery on November 20. He was on the disabled list during the 2008 season for 26 days in relation to a low back injury and "had intermittent symptoms at the end of the season that deemed off-season follow-up necessary." Robert Watkins in Los Angeles will perform the surgery, which is scheduled to be a lumbar discectomy. After surgery, Feliz will complete an eight-to-12 week rehabilitation program.