CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Turns out, Chase Utley's soreness was a little less routine than initially thought. The Phillies second baseman has been diagnosed with patellar tendinitis in his right knee after undergoing an MRI here in Florida on Saturday.

Both Utley and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. stopped short of calling the condition "serious", saying they hope an ounce of prevention during the spring will pay dividends down the road.

Utley has been held out of the Phillies' first three games this spring, including today's match-up against the Yankees at Bright House Field. But he continues to take batting practice, something he says is not hampered by the knee condition.

"I think he knows and understands this is about the long haul," Amaro said. "He's an intense guy and he wants to be out there playing and all that business, but I think he understands that this is all part of the process for him to be fine later on rather than have to deal with it long term."

Utley said the condition does not hamper him at the plate, but causes pain when he makes sharp movements like he would when fielding or running the bases.

He said surgical options to alleviate the tendonitis, which he said has plagued him in the past, have never been discussed.

"I hope it's just a minor blip," Utley said. "I think we have the right people checking it out. I think the work ethic is going to be there in terms of trying to improve it. So in that aspect I think it's all good."

Utley said the condition is nothing new. He has dealt with it and played through it in the past. But the flare-up has lasted longer than usual this time.

"It comes and goes," Utley said. "Right now it's not going as fast as I wish that it would. But I think at this point it is better to be safe than sorry. I'd rather miss some games down here than miss some games during the season."

The 32-year-old Utley hit .275 with a .445 slugging percentage last season, the third straight year in which both numbers declined. He did not estimate when he might return to game situations. He labelled himself as "day-to-day."

To read more on Utley's injury on the Daily News' Phillies blog, CLICK HERE.