When Chase Utley met with Charlie Manuel before Wednesday's game, he did not ask for a day of rest. Manuel didn't expect that anyway because Utley has never made that request to his manager.
And Manuel said he did not rest Utley because he had played for five straight days, his longest period of activity since October, before the tendinitis in his right knee caused a state of panic in Philadelphia. The manager just knew it was time.
"I can tell by the way he acts, when I look at him," Manuel said. "How about that? I think I'm that good. I think I know my players, and I know a lot about people. I study them. I sit and watch them."
So Utley rested Wednesday, just as Jimmy Rollins did, creating a double-play tandem of Michael Martinez and Wilson Valdez. It was just the fifth time in the last two years that the lineup did not include either Rollins or Utley.
But both regular second baseman and shortstop could return to Manuel's lineup Thursday, when the Chicago Cubs come to Citizens Bank Park to begin a four-game series.
Manuel was hopeful that Rollins, who has not started since Saturday because of a bruised knee, would be ready. Rollins pinch-hit in the ninth inning of Tuesday's game and flied out to right. He took full batting practice Wednesday and also fielded grounders.
Without Rollins in the lineup, it was a test of Manuel's patience in adhering to the maintenance plan outlined for Utley. The Phillies promised regular days of rest for the second baseman to manage the pain in his right knee. Before this recent stretch, Utley had played three days in a row and no longer.
"I think he's been very understanding," Manuel said. "He played three days in a row, and all of a sudden he played five days in a row. We'll go from there. We have a plan, and we'll stick with it."
The longer stretch did not appear to have a great effect on Utley's play. His final at-bat on the fifth day yielded a run-scoring triple. Utley said he was pleased with his progress.
"I wasn't really sure what to expect," he said. "I'm satisfied with how it's gone."
Utley said his timing at the plate needs more, well, time. But judging by his statements, the right knee has not been cumbersome.
"I'm playing without thinking about it," he said, "so that's the most important thing."
One area of possible concern has been Utley's throwing from second. Both of his errors this season have been on errant throws, and a few weak tosses have resulted in failed double plays. Utley said the knee has nothing to do with it and blamed himself.
"Ryan [Howard] is throwing me a good target over there," Utley said. "He's a big guy."
Kyle Kendrick will make his fourth start of 2011 on Thursday against Chicago, but it will be the first time this season that he makes back-to-back starts. The righthander has served as a swing man from the bullpen to the rotation, making spot starts when needed.
He threw a season-high 76 pitches Saturday against Pittsburgh and should be able to eclipse that as long as he is effective enough to stay in the game. Kendrick has never started against the Cubs.
Kendrick is likely to make another start in one of the doubleheader games scheduled for Wednesday against Florida or in a game in Seattle next weekend.
The Phillies will not face another lefthanded starter until Sunday, when Chicago trots out veteran Doug Davis, who is 0-5 with a 6.38 ERA this season.