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Tigers' Inge knows Utley's pain

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Brandon Inge has felt Chase Utley's pain.

The Detroit Tigers third baseman played the entire 2009 season with patellar tendinitis in his left knee. Utley, the Phillies All-Star second baseman, is currently sidelined by the same injury in his right knee and the team revealed Wednesday that it has not improved with a cortisone injection.

Though no two cases are exactly the same, Inge's injury sounded familiar enough to Phillies manager Charlie Manuel that he asked the Tigers third baseman to call Utley.

Inge said Utley has two options: season-ending surgery or playing through intense pain.

That explains why Utley and the Phillies are exhausting all non-operative options. Inge's description of the surgery was also grim.

He faced the same decision in 2009 when he was diagnosed with patellar tendinitis in spring training and he decided to play through the pain.

"The pain that is associated with it is not fun," Inge said. "It's a tough thing to play through."

After hitting .230 with 27 home runs and 84 RBIs in 2009, Inge opted for surgery in November and was ready to play opening day last season. But he said he did not feel significantly better until spring training this year.

"I played an entire year with it, then had the surgery and then an entire year last year recovering from it and it's not fun," he said. "This is the first time I've felt comfortable. There is not much you can do about it."

"They don't just do arthroscopic surgery -- they open you up," Inge said, lifting his uniform to reveal a five-inch scar on his left knee. Surgery was frustrating ... because the recovery is slow. In the beginning part, it's painful."

Inge said the procedure included the drilling of three holes in his kneecap.

It was obvious that Inge's pain was caused by something similar to what Utley is going through. When the Tigers third baseman was shown the new word -- chrondromalacia -- the Phillies are using to describe Utley's injury he immediately knew how to pronounce it.

"It's patellar tendinitis," he said. "Even if he does have the surgery, it's never going to be the same. I wish I had better news and I hope the best for him."

You can read more about Inge's take on Utley's injury in Thursday's Inquirer.

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