Why so secretive?
"I don't know," Utley said. "You guys know me by now, right?"
Utley's public face does not differ when discussing a walk-off home run or an injury that could threaten his season. His privacy is paramount, and the Phillies are adhering to it; this was the first time Utley spoke to reporters since March 9.
The second baseman accompanied the team on its charter flight to Philadelphia on Monday night. He will remain with the team while on the disabled list with patellar tendinitis, chondromalacia and bone inflammation in his right knee, so he can continue his rehab program - whatever it may entail - under the guidance of the Phillies athletic training staff.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Utley is not a candidate for the 60-day disabled list. Amaro said he is hopeful Utley can return long before then - but it's only a hope for now, because Utley cannot yet run.
"There are some positive signs," Amaro said. "Again, it's going to be a slow process, and we're going to have to be patient with him. But, at the very least, we're having more positive progressions, and that's better than going backward."
Utley reaffirmed his desire to avoid surgery because of the conflicting opinions he has heard. The Phillies have said they will exhaust all nonoperative options before moving to surgery, which clearly would sideline Utley for a prolonged period of time.
"You can talk to 10 different doctors, and they'll probably give you 10 different answers," Utley said. "There are a few different types of surgeries that guys would probably recommend. None of them I would feel that comfortable with at this point. I think we can alleviate this without the surgery, but time will tell."
Earlier this spring, Amaro said surgery is risky and could worsen the condition.
"That's what a few different doctors have said," Utley said. "Hey, listen, if surgery was the answer, and I could be back on the field in six weeks guaranteed, it would be a no-brainer. But I don't think that's the case. I think it's a little unpredictable at this point. I want to take as many steps as I can to avoid that surgery and see what happens."
Both Utley and Amaro indicated a belief that the chronic condition can go away using the current methods of rehab. Utley said he has developed a new stretching program with massages that are "a little bit more intense than just a standard massage." The second baseman said he does not think he will have to deal with the injury for the rest of his career.
But that won't be known until he can test the knee while running. He is moving laterally, but that is limited and "nothing too intense," Utley said. At least he can ditch the step-stool and lawn chair he needed before to field ground balls.
"We still plan on having him be our second baseman," Amaro said. "It's just a matter of when."
Contact staff writer Matt Gelb
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