Utley receives injection as knee pain lingers

Utley receives injection as knee pain lingers

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- There is growing concern about the pain in Chase Utley's right knee.

Utley has had patellar tendinitis in the knee since before Spring Training started. The Phillies prescribed rest and rehab after an MRI on Feb. 26, but the knee has yet to improve. So the Phillies took the next step Friday, when team physician Michael Ciccotti gave Utley a cortisone injection.

"There's always concern when you're not able to play," Utley said before Saturday's Grapefruit League game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Bright House Field. "From everything the MRI and the doctors have been saying, it seems like it can get better. It hasn't gotten better at this point. That's why we've taken the next step."

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said they hope to know before the end of the weekend if the shot worked.

Utley indicated he has had shots in the knee before when he said, "I've had a few shots over the course of my career."

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"Hopefully that gets him over the hump," Amaro said. "Hopefully it does so he can get back on the field and start playing in some games."

If not?

"If not, we'll have to look more intently on it," he said.

Utley said doctors indicated to him there is no structural damage in the knee -- "a little wear and tear, nothing crazy," is how Utley described it -- but the Phillies are not ruling out anything at this point.

"Could it be more than that?" Amaro said. "Perhaps. Right now that's what we have."

Utley has had tendinitis in his knee in the past. And that appears to be the main concern: He has had this before, but not for this long.

The Phillies have 24 more days of exhibition games before the April 1 season opener against the Astros at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies would like Utley to play in 10 games to give him enough at-bats to be ready.

"Every year is a little bit different," said Utley, who has continued to hit, though he has been unable to run or take fielding practice. "There's times [in Spring Training] when I've felt great after 15 at-bats. There's times where I haven't felt great after 50 at-bats. That's kind of up in the air. Obviously I want to get out there as soon as possible, but we also have to look at the big picture as well. ... It's just kind of a step-by-step process at this point. The whole goal for me is to try to get this fixed as soon as possible, but also keep it in perspective. I've got to keep it right for the long haul as well. I feel like we're making the right progression. We'll see how it goes."

If not, then what?

"Those are things we'll have to discuss at that time, but they said it would take two, three or four days to kick in and see how it goes from there," Utley said. "We'll know more after three or four days."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.