CLEARWATER, Fla. - First, we'll give you the good news, at least as it is viewed from the Phillies' perspective. Placido Polanco, who left Tuesday's game against Toronto with a hyperextended elbow, is set to begin baseball activities today and hitting some time this weekend. Brad Lidge, who has been shut down with biceps soreness since Monday, felt good after playing catch and is scheduled to throw a bullpen session today.
The bad news, however, concerns the Phillies' All-Star second baseman and No. 3 hitter. Chase Utley left spring training yesterday to visit what Ruben Amaro Jr. termed a "rehab specialist." Utley has not made any great strides in his recovery from a painful knee injury that the club has diagnosed as patellar tendinitis with chondromalacia and bone inflammation. The Phillies are determined to exhaust every possible option before surgery, which apparently would sideline Utley for a considerable length of time.
"We're just trying to find some techniques and things for him to do so surgery is not required," Amaro said.
Thus far, Utley has been limited to hitting in practice, which he says does not bother his knee, and fielding ground balls while seated in a chair. He has yet to play in a Grapefruit League game, and would require a near-miraculous recovery to be ready to play on Opening Day, which is 2 weeks from today.
"Opening Day is not my concern," Amaro said. "Getting him healthy is my concern."
Polanco, who hyperextended his elbow while swinging at a pitch, said he is 100 percent sure that he will be ready to play on Opening Day.
"Oh, yeah, yeah," the third baseman said. "What do we have, 15 days?"
Cliff Lee wasn't happy with the way he finished yesterday's outing in a 7-6 loss to the Blue Jays. The veteran lefty pitched three scoreless innings before allowing five runs in the fourth, including home runs by Juan Rivera and Edwin Encarnacion.
"The first three innings, the last one not so much so," said Lee, who is expected to pitch two more times before making his regular-season debut against the Astros at Citizens Bank Park on April 2. "It was just getting behind in the count, that was the main thing there. I got behind and had to catch more of the plate and they got hit. It happens. But physically I feel good. I got some reps in, and on to the next one."