As you can read here, Chase Utley was diagnosed with patellar tendonitis after undergoing an MRI yesterday here in Florida.
My first thought upon hearing the news? The big hullabaloo that erupted last June when first base coach Davey Lopes casually mentioned in an interview with Baseball Prospectus that Utley had been "hampered by a little bit of a knee injury."
At the time, Utley was hitting just .257 with a .451 slugging percentage through 62 games. Both of those numbers were well below his career averages, and there was a lot of concern amongst the fan base that Utley might be battling an injury like the balky hip that plagued him throughout 2008.
Utley insisted that he did not consider himself injured, and that there is a difference between the normal nicks and bruises that players endure over the course of a season and true physical incapacitation.
He then went out and backed up his words, going 2-for-5 with a home run and four RBI against the Twins that night. In his next 10 games, Utley hit .395 with a .419 on base percentage and .553 slugging percentage. Then he tore a thumb ligament sliding head-first into second base in Cincinnati and missed a month-and-a-half.
Listening to Utley talk yesterday, it sounds like he considers this more of a "condition" than an "injury." And if it were the middle of the regular season instead of the beginning of the Grapefruit League, he would certainly be out on the field playing.
Utley said the condition does not affect him at the plate. But it does cause pain when he makes sharp movements, like he would in the field or on the basepaths (the aforementioned Lopes interview involved the subject of base-running).
We don't have a good idea of when Utley will be back at full strength. But we do have an idea about what Lopes was talking about last season.