He hit a 2-2 curveball to right-center field for a solo home run in the bottom of the first inning against Pirates right-hander James McDonald on Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park. It was Utley's first at-bat this season after opening the season on the disabled list because of chondromalacia in his left knee.
He finished the game 3-for-5 in the Phillies' 11-7 loss to the Pirates and was just a few feet away from another home run in his second at-bat. It fell short, as Andrew McCutchen caught it in the middle of the warning track in center field.
"I was excited to be out there," Utley said after the game. "It's been a long road to get to this point. I had a lot of emotions and a lot of adrenaline, and the crowd definitely helped that."
Utley lacked power last season, when he opened the season on the DL with a chronically injured right knee. He said his legs weren't as strong as they needed to be, so he said he spent time strengthening his legs this season.
So far so good.
To make room for Utley on the 25-man roster, the Phillies optioned infielder Michael Martinez to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Utley had been on the DL all season with bilateral chondromalacia, a chronic left knee issue. The 33-year-old second baseman spent nine games with Class A Clearwater, and played one game with Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Tuesday night, when he went 2-for-5 with a home run and played all nine innings at second base.
He hit .156 with a home run and three walks in 32 at-bats for Clearwater, and he gradually ramped up his workload at second base during his time there. He batted .259 with 21 doubles, 11 home runs, 44 RBIs and 54 runs scored in 103 games last season, and the Phillies' scored an average of more than a run per game when Utley was in the lineup.
Martinez was batting .133 with a home run and four RBIs in 16 Major League games this season.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less