The Phillies announced Monday night that Utley, who has been on the disabled list since the beginning of the season with a chronic condition in his left knee, will begin a rehab assignment Tuesday with Class A Clearwater. Utley will be Clearwater's designated hitter Tuesday, but is expected to begin playing second base shortly.
Position players can spend 20 days on rehab assignments. If they are healthy, they are expected to rejoin the big league club at that point.
That means if Utley's rehab assignment goes well he should be back with the Phillies no later than July 2.
Utley played in only nine rehab games last season before rejoining the Phillies. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Utley would need more time this year, although Utley wouldn't say how much time he might need.
"We'll have to see," Utley told reporters June 3, the day he left for Clearwater after spending more than a month rehabbing with the team. "I didn't swing the bat that great initially last year. My whole goal is to feel comfortable not only in the batter's box but on the field as well."
By all accounts, Utley has looked good swinging the bat. He has worked hard to keep his legs strong during rehab. A lack of lower body strength likely sapped him of his power last season, when he had the worst year of his career offensively since becoming an everyday player.
The Phillies had no update on Ryan Howard, who is rehabbing from left Achilles surgery. But it is not a stretch to think both players could be back before the All-Star break.
The Phillies said third baseman Placido Polanco, who has been out with an injured left wrist, saw hand specialist Randall Culp on Monday in Philadelphia. Polanco's condition has improved and he could be available to play in Tuesday's series opener in Minnesota.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less