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Utley goes on disabled list; Galvis gets his chance

Before Chase Utley took a swing during batting practice in Miami and pain shot through his rib cage, Charlie Manuel advised Freddy Galvis to rehearse patience.

Chase Utley is being placed on the 15-day DL, the team reported today. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Chase Utley is being placed on the 15-day DL, the team reported today. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)Read more

Before Chase Utley took a swing during batting practice in Miami and pain shot through his rib cage, Charlie Manuel advised Freddy Galvis to rehearse patience.

"He's going to be an everyday guy in the big leagues," Manuel said. "It's just a matter of time."

The Phillies manager said that one day before Utley was hurt. He did not want Galvis ascending to the lineup in this fashion.

Utley was placed on the 15-day disabled list with what the team called "a very mild oblique injury." An MRI exam Thursday in Philadelphia showed no rib-cage injury, and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Utley would miss two to four weeks.

"We are being cautious with this injury as it is a tricky one and want to make sure it isn't an issue for him throughout the season," Amaro said in a statement released by the team.

The Phillies carry a shred of momentum into this weekend's first meeting with Washington. They have won seven of their last 10. They are finally within one game of .500. They are separated from the Nationals by one game.

"I'm curious to see [the Nationals]," Manuel said. "We have to outplay them, whoever we play. We have to beat everybody. We have to play everybody."

Utley's absence provides Galvis a chance. He spent the first two months of 2012 as the starting second baseman while Utley's knees rounded into shape. His bat has improved, although it is nowhere close to the offensive threat Utley represents.

Utley's .814 OPS leads the team. That clip ranked sixth among all second basemen entering play Thursday. His seven home runs tied for third-most among second basemen; his .475 slugging percentage ranked third behind Robinson Cano and Ian Kinsler.

The 34-year-old Utley missed 122 games the last two seasons because of his chronically injured knees. The Phillies, meanwhile, called up utility man Michael Martinez from triple A to take Utley's spot on the roster.

A year of maturation has wrought more pop and patience for Galvis. He has as many home runs (three) as in 2012 in 121 fewer at-bats. He managed seven walks a season ago and has five in 2013. Both sample sizes are small - Galvis' 2012 season was shortened because of a fractured back and a subsequent suspension for steroids.

His glove makes him a valuable player on any roster. The question is whether his hitting can sustain the rigors of an entire season.

"He just needs a little bit of patience," Manuel said. "Freddy just loves to play. He brings a lot to the table. He has a lot of intangibles. He hustles. He's very exciting."

The Phillies could be in the unfamiliar position of needing to trade a veteran to free a spot for Galvis. In recent years, the Phillies have shipped off most of their best young players to acquire experienced ones. Galvis has displayed proficiency at shortstop, second base, and third base. Jimmy Rollins, Utley, and Michael Young could become available in trades if the Phillies sell in July.

Rollins cannot be traded without his consent because of 10-and-5 rights (10 seasons in the majors and five with the same team). Young, similarly, has a full no-trade clause. Utley's 10-and-5 rights do not activate until August, but he has a limited no-trade provision in his contract.

Both Utley and Young can be free agents at season's end, so Galvis' chance at an everyday job - barring an injury like Utley's - may not happen until 2014. He projects better at second or shortstop because third base is a prototypical power position.

Manuel, when asked how he could better utilize Galvis, offered an interesting response.

"I'd like to get him all the playing time I can. Really," the manager said. "But at the same time, we have Rollins, Utley, and Young, and they like to play, too. They're established. We're committed to playing them. That doesn't mean Freddy can't. Just keep playing, and see what happens."

Galvis kept playing, and an injury will push him into Manuel's lineup. One day, it may not require bad news to make Galvis a starter.

Stutes returns

Thirteen months removed from his last major-league appearance, Mike Stutes is back in the Phillies bullpen.

The 26-year-old righthander was recalled Thursday and will join the team for Friday's series opener in Washington. He replaces Phillippe Aumont, who was optioned to triple-A Lehigh Valley to improve his control.

Stutes underwent shoulder surgery last summer and was sporadic in spring training. The Phillies wanted him to build innings and confidence in the minors. He posted a 3.33 ERA with 25 strikeouts and 11 walks in 27 innings at triple A. His last three weeks have been particularly encouraging. Stutes had a 0.59 ERA (one run in 151/3 innings) during that span.

Zambrano throws

Carlos Zambrano, the veteran starter signed to a minor-league deal, pitched in another extended spring training game Thursday. He did not allow an earned run in four innings while striking out four and walking one. He could pitch in a real minor-league game Tuesday.