Utley's injury situation seems just a little oblique

STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Chase Utley's oblique injury raises some eyebrows, given his history with past injuries.
STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Chase Utley's oblique injury raises some eyebrows, given his history with past injuries.
Posted: May 26, 2013

T HE 15-DAY disabled list for Chase Utley and his "very mild" oblique strain doesn't sound so bad - if the Phillies are telling the whole story.

But let's be honest, when was the last time you felt as though the Phillies told you the whole story about an injury or a player going on the DL?

Not that they are that different from any other professional sports franchise when it comes to full disclosure concerning injuries, but the Phillies and Utley have left an especially lingering taste of cynicism in our mouths concerning their abilities to tell the truth about the aging second baseman.

Considering that Utley did not co-sign the release announcing his trip to the DL, why would anyone take Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. at his word when he says, "We believe and hope that Chase will be ready to play in Philadelphia within 15 days"?

Take notice of the emphasis on "believe" and "hope" in Amaro's statement.

While it's certainly true that a strain, particularly in a high-torque area like an oblique, is a "tricky one" as Amaro noted, the fact that the injury involves a Phillie in general and Utley in particular makes one wonder what Amaro does or doesn't know for sure.

Utley doesn't exactly have a history of being forthcoming with the Phillies when it comes to keeping management in the loop when he is injured.

The beginning of the Phillies' collapse in 2012 can be directly linked to the circus that went on in spring training concerning the problem Utley was having with both knees and his seeming intent to give management as little information as possible about his status and treatment.

The Phillies made a few franchise-altering moves in the offseason - and avoided making some others - based on what they didn't know for sure, and Utley didn't give them much of a clear picture.

If you remember, before spring training, Utley had been working on his own to help his knee condition, assuring the Phillies that he would be fine. Then once spring training began, he wasn't. Utley began 2012 on the 15-day disabled list, with Amaro stumbling to explain why he didn't have answers concerning the health of a guy he was paying $15 million.

By the time the saga was done: Utley did not play his first game of the season until June 27.

Now, obviously this injury doesn't appear to be anywhere near as serious and puzzling as the degenerative knee issues Utley dealt with last season, but would anyone be surprised, if 2 weeks from now, we find out Utley's has a more serious issue than initially diagnosed?

Roy Halladay told the Phillies his arm was fine after two disastrous starts this spring before he ultimately 'fessed up that he was indeed experiencing a new kind of pain in his shoulder.

Even on the day that happened, manager Charlie Manuel hadn't been informed that Halladay was hurting before he faced the media for a postgame news conference and said the media probably would get a chance to talk to Halladay before he did.

Turns out Halladay needed surgery to have a bone spur removed and also to address fraying of his labrum and rotator cuff.

Halladay might or might not pitch again this season.

If you notice, Amaro has become adept at hedging his bets concerning injuries. Every discussion has clear qualifiers that allow him to insist later that he never specifically said that when a diagnosis or prognostication changes down the road.

"We are being cautious with this injury as it is a tricky one," Amaro said. "We want to make sure it isn't an issue for [Utley] throughout the season."

That's sort of an oxymoron, because it assumes Utley will stick with the program and be honest with the Phillies about how he is actually feeling. He didn't do that in the past.

False starts and false recoveries have become a way of life for the Phillies concerning Utley. They sometimes don't know what they don't know until Utley tells them.

This time, Utley is on the 15-day DL, but the time frame for return is 2 to 4 weeks. The difference between 14 days and 28 days is big, but it's not uncommon to have that sort of range.

Still, when it comes to Utley, you can't be sure whether the Phillies are just doing what most teams would do or that they know they can't rely on him for full disclosure.


Email: smallwj@phillynews.com

Blog: ph.ly/DNL

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