Phillies Notebook: Utley back in the swing

Posted: June 14, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS - Just as running and agility tests are important barriers to cross when coming back from a hamstring injury, swinging a bat is a crucial test to a baseball player working his way back from an oblique strain.

In order to take regular swings - which is a somewhat violent motion for the rib-cage area - the strain needs to subside. If it does not, the player can risk further injury.

Chase Utley, then, was encouraged after he followed an 18-day layoff without picking up a bat by hitting for 4 consecutive days this week. He hopes to take live batting practice with his teammates this weekend in Denver.

"The guys who I've talked to, who have had this [injury] in the past, they said once you start swinging, a few said it was sore and they had to back off for a few days," Utley said. "So far I haven't had to do that."

Utley, placed on the disabled list on May 23, remains hopeful he can return in the mid-June time frame general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. estimated.

Technically, mid-June would arrive this weekend, when the Phils close out an 11-day, three-city road trip at Coors Field. But if Utley begins to hit regularly this weekend, it's possible he could join the Phils on the next homestand.

"I think it's still realistic," Utley said of the possibility of a mid-June return. "Everything has gone well so far. [Today] I'm going to probably do the same, maybe pick up the intensity a little bit and go from there. But I don't have an actual date."

Utley swung for the first time in nearly 3 weeks on Sunday in Milwaukee. He has progressed from hitting off a tee to taking soft toss in the indoor cage with assistant hitting coach Wally Joyner yesterday at Target Field.

Other injury news * 

Carlos Ruiz (right hamstring strain) hit with the rest of the team in regular pregame batting practice. Ruiz also has taken part in catching practice before BP in each of the first 2 days in Minneapolis. Ruiz could go on a minor league rehab assignment this weekend.

Fellow catcher Erik Kratz is expected to be sidelined for 6 to 8 weeks. Kratz had surgery to repair a left meniscus tear yesterday morning in Philadelphia.

* John Lannan (left knee) made his second rehab start last night at Triple A Lehigh Valley. Lannan allowed seven hits and two earned runs in seven innings. He threw 85 pitches, 61 for strikes.

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On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21


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