It's unlikely, but door not closed on Chase Utley switching positions

Phillies second baseman Chase Utley is still recovering from a knee injury. (Richard Lipski/AP Photo)

Begin with this: Charlie Manuel is not so sure playing a position other than second base will alleviate the pain in Chase Utley's chronically injured knees. Any such position switch is unlikely.

"If he's going to have pain, he can have pain at first base, left field, right field, wherever. Just like he would have at second," Manuel said. "Getting him healthy and seeing what he can still do is the big thing."

But then there is this: Manuel would not completely shut the door on Utley playing left field or first base, however unlikely, upon his return. Utley played in his first extended spring training game Monday in Clearwater, Fla., and went 3 for 4 with a home run as designated hitter.

Utley is still weeks away from a return, but his progress allows some moments to think ahead. Freddy Galvis has played adeptly at second base. There has been production in left field from Juan Pierre, but it remains unsettled.

Could the Phillies move Utley to keep Galvis active? It's unlikely, especially in the middle of the season, but still not totally ridiculous. Manuel said the idea has come up in informal conversations. But before anything crazy were to happen, the manager said Utley has a strong say.

"We should sit him down and really ask him that before we do that," Manuel said. "He's earned that right to at least have a say in that."

When asked if he was committed to Utley as his second baseman, Manuel declined to answer.

"I don't have to right now," Manuel said. "When he comes back, we'll see. Why should I answer that today? That's sending the wrong message."

Whatever the case, it's likely Utley is eventually the Phillies' second baseman. But down the line, a switch is not as crazy as it seemed before.

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