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Amaro: Utley 'doubtful' for opening day

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Chase Utley hasn't been on the field since the early days of spring training, and he doesn't look like he will be getting there any time soon.

Phillies' GM Ruben Amaro says he's 'doubtful' Chase Utley will be ready to start on opening day. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Phillies' GM Ruben Amaro says he's 'doubtful' Chase Utley will be ready to start on opening day. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)Read more

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Chase Utley hasn't been on the field since the early days of spring training, and he doesn't look like he will be getting there any time soon. The veteran second baseman has left the Phillies' spring training complex to have his tendinitis-stricken right knee examined by a specialist, a move that all but eliminates the possibility of him suiting up with the team on Opening Day.

"I would think it would be doubtful for him to be prepared to play second base for us Opening Day, but really this is about making sure that he is healthy and playing for a significant amount of the season," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters on Monday morning, "so whatever time it takes for him to feel confident, fell good about his knees, that is the important part. It doesn't have to be today or tomorrow or next week, we have to get him feeling confident about being able to play out there without anything on his mind. The last thing he wants to do is be sitting around,  but I think this is the best thing for him."

The Phillies have insisted throughout the spring that Utley was on track to be in the Opening Day line-up, saying that they were simply erring on the side of caution in holding him out of Grapefruit League games. But Utley clearly is having difficulty getting into good enough physical shape to be able to perform. In a statement yesterday morning, the Phillies said that the second baseman had reached a "plateau" in his progress prompting the visit to a specialist, which is not the same specialist that he saw last spring. Amaro said that Utley will not be leaving the country to seek treatment.

"I don't know if anything changed, but he just didn't really progress the way we'd like for him to progress," Amaro said. "When he first came into spring he was feeling really good. He started taking ground balls. Our plan, as we had talked about, was to not have him play for awhile because we wanted to make sure we put him in a position to not start pounding on his knees in the early part of spring, just to hold him off. But kind of when it was time to start getting him on the field, he wasn't really feeling well enough to do that. So he's not. He's been improving, I think, over the last couple of weeks or so, but not to the point where he is ready to get on the field and feel confident about it."

Amaro did not estimate a timetable for Utley's return.

"He hasn't really gotten over the hump," the GM said. "He hasn't gotten to the point where he is confident enough to get on the field and be able to perform without maybe feeling worse. We're trying to hit it with a couple of different things. Seeing the the specialist is one thing where we're going to try to get him over the hump."

Short stop prospect Freddy Galvis has taken the majority of reps at second base this spring and is a serious candidate to open the season as the Phillies' starting second baseman.