The schedule for Chase Utley's playing time stored safely in Charlie Manuel's desk drawer is subject to change. The Phillies manager will consider the medical reports prepared by head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan, Utley's feedback, and his own two eyes when determining when to play the second baseman.
Wednesday was Utley's first scheduled day off, and these moments will be regular to ensure that the chronic pain in his right knee does not overwhelm him. The Phillies hope rest in May, June, and July will result in health come October.
"I kind of knew when I put him out there the last two days that I would rest him" Wednesday, Manuel said. "We'll monitor him as we go along."
Utley had one hit in his first nine at-bats and was not without challenges in the field at second. Manuel said he was happy with what he saw in Utley's first two games. The rust, he said, is expected.
"I think he's moving pretty good," Manuel said. "He's moving fine. He needs a little bit more timing in the game as far as secondary stuff - breaking balls and change-ups. He's swinging pretty good at fastballs."
Wilson Valdez started in Utley's place against Cincinnati and Ben Francisco moved into Utley's No. 2 spot in the lineup.
Given the night off Wednesday, Utley could play in the next four games through the weekend. Or maybe not. Manuel said he hasn't decided. Comfort with Utley's playing time will come with familiarity.
"We'll monitor him as we go along," Manuel said. "Once we get up to four or five days, eventually, it'll tell us a whole lot more about him - exactly where he's at."
Joe Blanton was examined by orthopedist James Andrews in Florida, and no surgery was recommended on his sore right elbow. Andrews agreed with Phillies team doctors, who plan for Blanton to be shut down completely for three to four weeks. Then he will begin a throwing program that will include minor-league rehab starts. So Blanton is likely out until around the all-star break.
It's likely Ross Gload, the team's top pinch-hitter, will be forced to play the whole season with a nagging hip injury. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. described it as a labral tear, not dissimilar from the one Utley played through in part of 2008.
Amaro expects Gload to be able to play out the season, but it will take some regular management of the injury. It will also limit Gload's starts, not that they were plentiful before. The lefty was unavailable in Tuesday's game because he aggravated the injury during his last start a week ago against Colorado. Gload had pinch-hit twice since then.
"He's going to be able to play here pretty soon," Amaro said. "Hopefully he'll be playing shortly."
Gload entered Wednesday 10 for 34 (.294) with seven of those hits coming off the bench. The 35-year-old was fourth in the majors with 15 pinch-hits in 2010. He is in the second year of a two-year, $2.6 million deal.
Rookie Vance Worley said he started to feel tired near the end of the third inning Tuesday but still finished five innings. He had not pitched more than three innings in 20 days, so pitching coach Rich Dubee said the lack of stamina was reasonable.
He does want to see some better work between starts from his 23-year-old righthander.
"There's some rust there probably," Dubee said. "But again, that's why you work so hard in your bullpen sessions."
Jose Contreras (elbow) will be activated from the disabled list Thursday. The Phillies held back on the move Wednesday because Contreras had thrown two innings Tuesday in the minors and likely would have been unavailable. Righthander David Herndon is probably headed to triple A to make space for Contreras. . . . Domonic Brown sat on the bench again with a lefthander on the mound.