CINCINNATI - The long-term prognoses for injured infielders Chase Utley (sprained thumb) and Placido Polanco (elbow soreness) remain uncertain, for the time being.
Utley met with Philadelphia-based hand specialist Dr. Randall Culp yesterday, but the Phillies say they will not have any further information until he receives another opinion today from hand specialist Dr. Andrew Weiland in New York. Same goes for Polanco, who saw orthopedist Dr. Steven Cohen in Philadelphia yesterday and will get another opinion today from Dr. David Altcheck in New York.
The Phillies are calling Utley's injury, suffered while sliding headfirst into second base on Monday night at Cincinnati, a sprain, although they have not provided any hint as to how severe it could be. A high-grade sprain could require surgery, which in the past has sidelined position players for anywhere from 6 to 10 weeks.
Polanco's future is also unclear. As recently as Monday, the Phillies were hoping that he would be back on the field this week. But a second cortisone shot into his sore elbow - which contains a pre-existing bone-chip spur that might have been aggravated when he was hit with a pitch in Atlanta in late April - did not provide the desired effect. Like Utley, the Phillies are waiting for today's evaluation before providing even a rough timetable for either player.
Both players have been placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Despite throwing 100 pitches in the fifth start of a rehab assignment that, according to major league rules, must end next Wednesday, lefty J.A. Happ is not expected to be activated in the near future. He is scheduled to meet the Phillies in Pittsburgh this weekend, at which point he will throw a bullpen session and wait for his next move - likely another rehab start on Sunday or Monday.
If the Phillies still aren't satisfied with Happ's progress, he could find himself in limbo. Although Happ, who went on the DL with an elbow strain after his second start of the season, says he feels healthy, he allowed 10 of the 22 hitters he faced to reach base Tuesday night. Those who have seen him pitch say he still needs to develop more consistency with his entire repertoire.
League rules allow 30 days for a rehab assignment to prevent teams from stashing out-of-options players on the DL. The Phillies have the ability to file for an extension, but they also could activate Happ and option him to Lehigh Valley.
The Phillies' backup catchers have produced four home runs since Carlos Ruiz went on the disabled list nearly 2 weeks ago.
The fourth came yesterday in the fourth inning, when Dane Sardinha, recalled from Triple A Lehigh Valley after Ruiz suffered a concussion against the Twins on June 18, hit a three-run homer to give the Phillies a 3-0 lead.
"Any hit I get means a lot to me at this stage in my career," said Sardinha, who was drafted in the supplemental round by the Reds in 2000 and played in parts of two seasons for them. "But against them, it's a little special."
Yesterday marked the fifth time this season Roy Halladay has allowed 10 or more hits in a game. He did it six times last season and a career-high eight times in 2007 . . . Halladay struck out 10 batters, the second time this season and 10th time in his career he has reached double digits . . . Ryan Howard's single in the sixth inning extended his hitting streak against the Reds to 12 games. He has reached base safely in 16 straight games. *