Phillies Notes: Phillies' Utley is progressing slowly

Chase Utley has been sidelined for an indefinite period with chronic pain in his right knee. (David Maialetti/Staff file photo)
Chase Utley has been sidelined for an indefinite period with chronic pain in his right knee. (David Maialetti/Staff file photo) (Brian McCardle)
Posted: April 15, 2011

WASHINGTON - Five hours before Thursday's series finale here, Scott Sheridan watched Chase Utley do some light running around the infield and some shuttle drills.

Two hours later, Sheridan took a seat directly behind the batting cage in the dugout tunnel to watch Ryan Howard swing a bat.

Utley, of course, remains sidelined for an indefinite period with chronic pain in his right knee despite his increased work with Sheridan, the Phillies' head athletic trainer. Beginning to run is an obvious sign of progress.

The news on Howard was encouraging, too. He had an X-ray on his right wrist after Wednesday's game, when he was hit by a John Lannan pitch there. The X-ray was negative and Howard batted cleanup Thursday with a small guard protecting the area.

"If it was hit on the bone, I wouldn't be playing," Howard said.

As for Utley, the patellar tendinitis, chondromalacia, and bone inflammation have kept him from doing any baseball activity other than hitting and fielding ground balls from a fixed position. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said at the end of spring training that Utley was not a candidate for the 60-day disabled list because the team hoped for a return before then.

An exact date is not certain.

"He's driving the train," assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said.

That means the rehabilitation is going at Utley's pace. Of late, he has made more lateral movement while participating in fielding drills. But all indications are that this remains a slow process.

"He's progressing as he can tolerate," Proefrock said. "He obviously felt good enough to do something more than he had been doing. Again, every time he does something he hasn't done in the past, the next day is when you find out how it's tolerating."

Draft order

The cost of signing Cliff Lee was $120 million and a first-round draft pick. So instead of selecting 33d in this June's entry draft, the Phillies will not have a first-round pick.

The Phillies' first choice will come at No. 39 - one reward for losing Jayson Werth to free agency, Major League Baseball announced Thursday. That is in the compensatory round.

Werth was a type-A free agent, so the Phillies should have received another first-rounder for losing him. But because he signed with Washington, which has the sixth overall pick, the Phillies are compensated with a second-rounder.

Why? The top 18 picks in the draft are protected from being used as compensation. Thus, Werth will net the Phillies pick No. 66 in the second round, which was the Nats' property. Their next pick comes at No. 90, the last selection of the second round.

Last year, the Phillies took local lefthander Jesse Biddle with the 27th overall pick.

Using the bench

Charlie Manuel has yet to find a spot to start John Mayberry Jr. or Ross Gload in a game, but the manager said he was thinking about it.

"I have to try and get guys some playing time," Manuel said. "If they're going to help us at all during the season, they need to play some."

Extra bases

Pitching coach Rich Dubee wouldn't say what Roy Halladay's pitch-count limit was in Wednesday's game. Halladay finished with 123 pitches, tied for 10th most he's ever thrown in a game. Dubee said he believed that Halladay's previous outing of 113 pitches was actually more strenuous than Wednesday's. . . . The Phillies strongly disputed an online report that Ryan Madson's wife, Sara, disparaged Phillies fans.


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