Phillies' Utley likely out for first week of spring games
CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) Second baseman Chase Utley will not play in the Philadelphia Phillies' Grapefruit League opener Tuesday, and he says he isn't likely to see game action this week while coming back from a right ankle injury.
The 36-year-old Utley has participated in hitting and fielding practice during the Phillies' first week of full-squad workouts, but has not gone through any base-running drills. He sprained his ankle in January while doing infield work in January, before arriving in Clearwater.
''I'm not quite there to 100 percent yet,'' Utley said Monday morning. ''There's no sense in overdoing it and screwing something else up, especially when we have a month until the season starts.''
Manager Ryne Sandberg said on Sunday that he wants to ''ease him'' into games in the coming weeks. Utley said he likely wouldn't play through Friday's games.
''They're not going to play him for a little while because he's not recovered from his ankle fully,'' general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. ''When he is, that's when we'll start playing him.''
Utley did not participate in the Phillies short workout on Monday.
The team was off the field before noon because the organization was holding its annual spring golf outing.
The workout was delayed early, too, as the team participated in MLB's two-hour domestic violence and sexual assault session.
Because Utley was in that meeting he was unable to go through the rigorous pregame and pre-practice workouts that have been a part of his routine since he began having knee problems in 2011.
''There's a process I go through to get on the field,'' Utley said of his stretching and strengthening routines.
Utley didn't play a single spring training game in either 2011 or 2012 while struggling with knee problems. He missed the majority of the first half of each regular season in those years, too; Utley played in 103 games in 2011 and just 83 games in 2012.
But after participating in his first opening day in three seasons in 2013 - and playing 131 games - Utley was an All-Star starter in 2014, when he avoided the disabled list and played in 155 games, his most since 2009.
Utley, who has played his entire career in Philadelphia, is in the final year of a 2-year, $25 million deal. He can remain with the Phillies for as many as three more seasons after this year, however, by way of the vesting options in his contract.
Utley has $15 million options for 2016, 2017 and 2018 that become guaranteed if he reaches 500 plate appearances in each preceding season.