Phillies Notes: Utley sticks with plan to 'take it slow' in recovery

Posted: May 31, 2013

The Phillies started four middle infielders Thursday while the one whose presence they crave fielded ground balls hours before the game. That was progress for Chase Utley, who is moving forward in his recovery from a strained right oblique muscle.

His most important test, swinging a bat, will not happen for some time.

"It's still going to be a fairly slow process of trying to come back," Utley said. "As soon as I'm ready, I'll be out there."

Utley said he has no timetable for his return. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. offered a "mid-June" estimate. But that was after he established an optimistic 15-day window for Utley's activation.

Given the nature of the injury, the Phillies and Utley are operating with unknowns. All Utley knows is he will not be ready to return next Thursday, the first day he is eligible to come off the disabled list.

"Totally unfamiliar," Utley said. "It's the first time I've pulled anything. It's a new process for me. I'm trying to stay positive with it. The main thing is to take it slow, especially with obliques. You don't want to set yourself back farther."

The second baseman was hurt May 21. It could be a month total before he is back.

Utley said his midsection feels "a little bit better" every day. He will start to do more rotational exercises as tolerated. But he will not know how close he is to returning until he swings a bat.

"That will be the last thing I do," Utley said. "I'm just running and getting back into baseball shape by taking ground balls. Those are the things I'll do until I'm ready to hit."

Howard sits

Ryan Howard did not start for the fourth time in the Phillies' last 11 games. He was 0 for 8 with four strikeouts lifetime against Boston starter Franklin Morales. With Howard's bad left knee, Charlie Manuel is looking for chances to rest him.

Manuel said it was a product of both situations.

"We've got a chance to see a lot of righthanded pitchers in a row," Manuel said. "Rest him today. Get him off his knee and come back and put him in there tomorrow."

Thanks, Shane

Shane Victorino was happy the Phillies paid tribute to his eight seasons in Philadelphia with a video during Wednesday's game. The Red Sox centerfielder is on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring but made the trip because he wanted to pay his respects.

"That made me feel good," Victorino said. "The fans were always great to me here."

Extra bases

The Phillies won Wednesday by scoring four runs on four solo home runs. It was the third time in franchise history that happened. The last instance was May 9, 2005, when Utley (twice), Bobby Abreu and Jason Michaels homered in a 4-2 win over Milwaukee. . . . Manuel said Michael Young left him a voice mail Thursday but would not say when the third baseman would return from the bereavement list. . . . Cesar Hernandez had two hits in his first major-league start. He also flashed sharp defense at second base.

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