MIAMI - Chase Utley took his first swing in batting practice Tuesday and it did not feel right. He took a second hack, then another, and one more. That is when he went to Charlie Manuel and told the manager his right side hurt.
"It definitely scared me a little bit," Utley said Wednesday.
Depending on what an MRI examination shows Thursday in Philadelphia, the Phillies could be without their second baseman and top offensive performer for the foreseeable future. Utley and team officials would not speculate on whether his rib-cage injury will require a stint on the disabled list, but they all prepared for that reality.
Utley consulted with teammates, past and present, who suffered similar injuries. Their advice was consistent.
"The main thing they said was, 'Don't rush back,' " Utley said. "That's when you can make it worse and prolong the time you're out."
Manuel and assistant general manager Scott Proefrock discussed possible roster replacements outside the visiting dugout at Marlins Park before Wednesday's game. Proefrock said the team may not summon another middle infielder. Freddy Galvis would replace Utley as the everyday second baseman in any scenario.
That could put minor-league slugger Darin Ruf on the roster. But Ruf entered play Wednesday just 2 for his last 27 with 11 strikeouts and no extra-base hits at triple-A Lehigh Valley in the last week. He had five homers with a .772 OPS for the season. He could become a bench bat for the Phillies.
If the Phillies opt for another infielder, they could choose veteran Pete Orr. Cesar Hernandez, a 23-year-old prospect, is Lehigh Valley's starting second baseman. He is hitting .320 with an .842 OPS, but the Phillies want his development to continue. Being a bench player in the majors could hinder that.
Whatever the case, Utley's bat would be a significant loss. He leads the team with an .814 OPS and is second in home runs with seven.
"I have felt pretty good," Utley said. "Hopefully this is just a small bump in the road."
Utley said he has never suffered an injury to his midsection like this. He said he felt about the same Wednesday as he did Tuesday. He was glad he did not attempt to play through the injury, something he may have tried in the past.
"I think it was a smart thing to do," Utley said of informing Manuel. "You want to be careful with these things because they could linger and get worse if you try to play through it. I think we caught it early enough, but it's hard to know until we have some imaging on it."