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When will we see Utley back on the field?

The Phillies say 15 days. Some national reports say it could be several weeks. But what do history and research tell us?

Last night, the Phillies confirmed what most fans have suspected all week—Chase Utley is indeed heading to the 15-day DL with a mild oblique strain.

The organization quickly stated that the expect the second baseman back after those 15 days—yet on this morning's television broadcasts, reports indicated Utley could be out for "up to four weeks."

Research in the January 2012 edition of the American Journal of Sports Medicine looked at Major League Baseball players with oblique strains from 1991-2010. The research, led by Los Angeles Dodgers director of medical services guru Stan Conte, PT, DPT, ATC did not differentiate between first-degree, or mild strains (which Utley has) and second/third-degree strains. It did, however, provide some specific based on player positions and other variables.

  1. The average time missed for players with oblique strains from 1991-2010 was 30 days.

  2. Position players (non-pitchers) missed an average of 26 days during this time

  3. Among position players, switch-hitters tended to miss longer than 26 days on average.

Utley, a strictly left-handed hitting second baseman, falls directly into that first group of position players with the 26-day average. But when taking into account that his strain is admittedly mild—and that the aforementioned research includes strains of all different severities—that 15-day timeline sounds a little more realistic.

"It's absolutely realistic that Utley could be back in 15 days," said Sports Doc's Justin Shaginaw, MPT, ATC. "In a long season like MLB's it just doesn't make sense to take any chances—because he won't hit well for as long as this injury lingers."

Read more Sports Doc for Sports Medicine and Fitness.