WASHINGTON — Chase Utley believed it was prudent to inform the Phillies moments after pain shot through his right side during batting practice Tuesday. Rather than play through it, an idea a twentysomething Utley might have embraced, Utley was confident in his caution.
His diagnosis Thursday of a "very mild" oblique strain reaffirmed that decision. Utley will miss at least two weeks and Phillies officials are optimistic that is all.
Utley, while describing his injury the "best-case scenario," is taking a more conservative view.
"We really won't know for another week or so, how it's recovering," Utley said. "Obviously I'd like to be back in 15 days. But I don't think it's smart to come back if it's not ready."
Utley will remain with the team during his time on the disabled list. He said he felt better Friday than he did the previous two days. In lieu of a minor-league rehab assignment, Utley could regain his timing through simulated games. But that is a decision for later. Utley can return as early as June 5.
The Phillies recalled Michael Martinez to replace Utley on the roster. Martinez has the worst OPS (.512) among all Phillies players since 1960 (minimum 350 plate appearances). The team decided against summoning Darin Ruf because he is mired in a slump and playing time would be limited.
"We talked about him," Charlie Manuel said. "They said he's not swinging good at the moment. We talked about him. We talked about him for later on, about some of the lefthanded pitchers we'll run into. We'll wait until he starts hitting better, I guess."
So why add the light-hitting Martinez?
"We could always use somebody to run," Manuel said. "... Michael is a switch hitter. He can play a lot of positions."
His ability to play shortstop put him over veteran Pete Orr.
The Phillies could have used Ruf as a designated hitter Monday and Tuesday at Fenway Park. He was scratched from triple-A Lehigh Valley's lineup Friday and carried a 3 for 31 slump with 12 strikeouts. Ruf was hitting .262 with five homers in 43 total games at triple A.
Assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said Ruf's outfield defense did not factor into the decision.
"He's made progress," Proefrock said. "He's not great, but I think he's made a lot of strides. I think he's going to keep working on it down there. I think the big thing right now is he's been in a little slump offensively. From that perspective obviously he needs to get it going and be a little more consistent offensively as well. His defense, he's worked very hard on it and I'm sure he'll continue to work hard on it. That wasn't a factor in this decision. It was more Michael's versatility and just the really short window of interleague play."
Have a question? Send it to Matt Gelb's Mailbag.