Chase Utley has the most famous wounded knee outside of South Dakota. And that knee just happens to be attached to the leg on which he usually plants to throw to first base. But Charlie Manuel said today he does not think the condition that sidelined Utley for the first three months of the season has anything to do with the rustiness he has displayed on a few of his throws to first.

Last night, Utley skipped a ball to first base on a routine 4-3 double play in the first inning (Ryan Howard scooped the ball on the hop to complete the play). Earlier in the inning, he was unable to get much mustard on an off balance throw to first base, although Dodgers Jamey Carroll looked like he would have beaten it out anyway.

Utley has had a couple other weak throws since returning from the DL, but Manuel said he thinks the problem is more a product of the second baseman's long layoff than it is a product of any difficulty in pushing off his right leg.

"When Chase plays three or four days in a row, his game timing" gets better, Manuel said. "He's getting there. It's just him playing in games and getting used to the big league way of playing. He was down there in Clearwater playing with the Threshers and extended spring. This is a little bit faster game. It moves a little bit different on him.

"It's just a matter of him getting in the flow of things."

Utley is in the line-up for his fifth straight day tonight against the Dodgers, the first time he has played that much since his return on May 23.

Manuel said Utley will likely get a day off tomorrow.


Other news and notes that you can read more about in tomorrow's paper: Ruben Amaro Jr. said an MRI revealed a deep bone bruise in Jimmy Rollins' knee cap, which makes him more of a possibility for the disabled list than the Phillies thought at this time yesterday. Amaro said he should know more within the next 24 to 48 hours.

Also, unsurprisingly, Brad Lidge was a consummate professional when discussing his potential return to a role other than closer. Lidge said he will pitch wherever he is told, and that he would not want to change anything the way Ryan Madson is pitching.

Lidge first has to return, though, and that could take longer than he had hoped. He said a visit with team doctor Michael Ciccotti confirmed that the soreness he has been feeling in his elbow is nothing other than a condition he usually battles when he starts throwing in spring training. Lidge had been hoping for a mid-June return. Now, he said, late-June or the All Star Break is more realistic.

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