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News » Phillies 2B Utley should be ready to play soon 2009-03-08

Phillies 2B Utley should be ready to play soon 2009-03-08

Phillies 2B Utley should be ready to play soon 2009-03-08
CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) - Chase Utley's recovery from offseason hip surgery is nearly complete.

The Philadelphia Phillies' All-Star second baseman continued his daily routine Friday and, barring a setback, should see action in his first Grapefruit League game in the next two weeks.

Before the team's "B" game at Bright House Field, Utley took part in fielding and batting practice. With opening day a month away, Utley is one step from returning to game form.

"Playing at game pace - that's the last thing," he said Friday. "The only way you can really mimic that is playing in a game. We've made some progressions over the next week that are going to try to mimic that as best as possible."

Utley's final rehabilitation drills will include sliding and running the bases at full throttle. Once he passes the final test of moving at game speed, Utley will being polishing his swing in games.

"I don't think it's going to be a problem," he said. "But I think we have to do it before we jump into a game."

Utley, who played through pain for most of the 2008 season and helped Philadelphia win the World Series, underwent surgery on his right hip Nov. 24. At that time, it was estimated his rehabilitation would take four to six months.

Utley, however, worked diligently at Citizens Bank Park five times a week this winter and continued to move at a quick but smart pace when he made the move to Clearwater early last month.

He fielded grounders for the first time during the second week of February, and Utley has been swinging against live pitching for two weeks.

Utley doesn't have an idea of how many spring training at-bats he'll need to be ready for the regular season, but thinks he'll be prepared if he's back on the field by mid-March.

"Once the adrenaline starts pumping and the regular season starts, you kind of have that little extra edge on your side," Utley said. "But the last couple weeks would be nice to be a part of the games."

Meanwhile, fellow Phillies infielder Pedro Feliz, who had back surgery in November, began swinging a bat this week. Feliz, entering his second season as Philadelphia's third baseman, remains on target to make his Grapefruit League debut in the next week to 10 days, according to general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.

"He's been doing very well for us," Amaro said. "His latest exam with (team physician Michael Ciccotti) was very good. He's been moving around well, he's taking BP on the field now.

"I could see him in the next week to 10 days being on the field and competing again and getting in some games."

With two of his infielders on the mend from major surgeries, Amaro stockpiled infielders in the offseason. He signed veterans Marcus Giles, Pablo Ozuna and Miguel Cairo and invited top infield prospect Jason Donald to major league camp.

But in the last two weeks, Utley and Feliz have taken steps to raise their general manager's confidence level.

"Probably a little bit more optimistic," Amaro said when asked if he felt better about each of his infielders now than when camp opened last month. "Right now they're continuing to progress and we're hopeful, if not by opening day, then close to opening day these guys will be ready to play."

Notes: A day after Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said the race for the fifth starter's spot had begun, Chan Ho Park responded against the Blue Jays on Friday night. The veteran right-hander allowed one run and three hits in four innings, striking out four while walking none. ... In a "B" game between the Phillies and Blue Jays on Friday afternoon, Philadelphia RHP Brett Myers gave up five runs and six hits in three innings of a 12-7 loss. Kevin Millar and former Phillies infielder Scott Rolen homered off Myers. Rolen hit two home runs in the game. ... Jayson Werth (right shoulder) finished 1-for-4 in the "B" game and could make his first Grapefruit League appearance Saturday.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: March 8, 2009

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