Chase Utley took his hacks Wednesday, even depositing one ball deep into the right-centerfield stands at Citizens Bank Park. Then he put his bat down and stood next to Charlie Manuel behind the cage for the remainder of batting practice.
There are questions about Utley's progress because the injured second baseman has yet to do any infield work as planned.
"Soon enough," Utley said, "I'll be out here slowly getting ready."
"Hopefully soon," Utley said.
A year ago Thursday, Utley began a minor-league rehab assignment. He spent 11 days playing games in Florida and returned to the Phillies after missing the season's first 46 games. It's clear he's behind that pace this time.
Utley addressed reporters Saturday in Washington and said he had tested his chronically injured knees with some light fielding work while in Arizona on a turf field, but that it was mostly "simulated baseball things." He said in an interview in April that ground balls were what most bothered his injured knees, not swinging a bat.
"Being with the team, I'll be able to be on the field a little more," Utley said on Saturday. "I'll be able to take more ground balls."
That has yet to happen on the infield dirt at Citizens Bank Park. Utley said Wednesday he has been doing work inside in "a little more controlled environment."
"Grounders are harder because I have to get my legs under me and in a more athletic position," Utley said. "Those are things that I'm going to have to progress doing. I can't just go out there and take 100 ground balls right off the bat. I know myself and, at this point, that wouldn't be good for me."
Following Tuesday's loss, Manuel bemoaned his team's approach when ahead in the count. The numbers supported his concern: Phillies hitters had an .845 OPS entering Wednesday when the count was in their favor. That was the worst clip in the majors, which averaged a .960 OPS in those situations.
With a three-ball count, the Phillies had an OPS of .780. That was the worst in baseball with the league average at .975. And with a full count, the Phillies had a .552 OPS. That was also the worst in baseball; the league average was .815.
Manuel said he has often talked to his players about better selectivity, but practice and advice can only do so much.
"It doesn't hurt to remind, remind, remind," Manuel said. "I am one of those guys. But I can't stand there during the game and go up to home plate and say, 'Ehh, don't swing at this pitch now.' I can't do that. If I could, I would.
"You have to think for yourself. The reason you chase balls like that is because you're over-anxious. You're more apt to chase a ball in the dirt when you're over-anxious."
Bangs and bruises
Manuel said three players, Carlos Ruiz, Ty Wigginton and Laynce Nix, were plagued by minor injuries.
Ruiz "jammed" his left hand, Manuel said, but details beyond that were not available. The injury was serious enough to preclude Ruiz from participating in batting practice Wednesday with his teammates. Brian Schneider started at catcher, and Ruiz was used as a pinch-runner in the sixth.
Wigginton had soreness in his side, Manuel said. He, too, did not take batting practice, although Manuel said Wigginton told him he could hit.
Nix was slowed Tuesday by a sore left calf, and he continued to experience issues Wednesday. He pinch-hit in the sixth and delivered a run-scoring single but could barely make it to first base. He was removed for the pinch-runner, Ruiz.
To make room for Cliff Lee's return, the team optioned righthander Michael Schwimer to triple-A Lehigh Valley on Wednesday. Schwimer had an 8.53 ERA in five appearances with the Phillies.