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Utley hopes to be back in two weeks

Less than 24 hours after being placed on the disabled list, Utley says he's already feeling better and hopeful to return in two weeks.

The Phillies will take the field in Washington tonight to face the Nationals for the first time this season and with an opportunity to get to the .500 mark for the first time since April 14.

They'll do so without their best hitter, of course. Chase Utley was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a mild oblique strain. The move was retroactive to Tuesday, meaning Utley can return as soon as June 5.

Phils GM Ruben Amaro Jr said on Thursday he was hopefuly that was possible - that Utley would miss the minimum amount of time.

As for Utley?

"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. So we'll know more probably in a week or so."

Utley did concede that Thursday's MRI revealed the "best case scenario" with an olbique strain in that it was mild. And he has already taken steps toward recovery.

"I feel a little better today than I felt two days ago," Utley said, "so that's a good sign."

The Phillies replaced Utley on the active roster with utility man Michael Martinez. The 30-year-old Martinez is a .188 hitter with a .512 OPS in 133 major league games.

So... why Martinez?

"We could always use somebody to run," manager Charlie Manuel expained. "If we take Delmon (Young) out of the game (for defense), we might want to keep (John) Mayberry (Jr.) back to hit. Things like that. Michael is a switch hitter. He can play a lot of positions. Hopefully we won't have to run Cliff (Lee) any more."

And... why not Darin Ruf?

"I think the better fit was someone who could play all over the field," assistant GM Scott Proefrock said. "We've got two (interleague) games. It would be hard to find (Ruf) a place to play and it probably wouldn't be the right fit. At this particular point in time Michael would step into what Freddy (Galvis)'s role is and play all over the field. He can play some center field if he had to. He's been here before. That seemed to make some more sense than something like that."

To make room for Martinez on the 40-man roster, Roy Halladay was transferred to the 60-day DL.

Little known Michael Martinez fact: he scored the Phillies' last postseason run.