Manuel said he does not feel any sense of urgency to get Utley, sidelined for the past week, into any spring games.
"As long as we can have him healthy, ready to play on Opening Day, that's kind of how I look at it," Manuel said. "I want to get him some at-bats and things like that, but right now I think getting him 100 percent and well is the most important thing."
Utley's condition, along with the injuries that plagued the Phillies' veteran infielders last season, could prompt the team to carry an extra infielder on the Opening Day roster. Last year, third baseman Greg Dobbs was on the bench along with utility man Juan Castro. This year, Wilson Valdez is the only backup infielder who seems to be a lock for the team. Outfielders Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. are both competing for roster spots.
There could be an opening for the gaggle of infielders currently in camp. In the Phillies' 6-2 loss to the Tigers yesterday, former Padres prospect Josh Barfield played second base and went 2-for-3 with a double.
Barfield broke into the big leagues as a 23-year-old in 2006, hitting .280 with a .741 OPS, 13 home runs and 21 stolen bases for San Diego. But he struggled the next season, and has managed just 53 big-league plate appearances since.
Others who will get looks at second base include veteran utility men Pete Orr and Delwyn Young.
Manuel said his chief concern for a backup infielder would be defensive ability, as was the case when Valdez earned his way onto the roster last season.
"Being a manager, I look at it like, if we lose somebody, we can't lose a lot on the defensive side," he said. *