By Evan Brunell
Those not in the know watching the Phillies' pregame routine Wednesday may not have seen anything strange with the person manning second field during practice.
But there was in fact, something strange: Chase Utley was taking grounders and moving around so smoothly one could easily forget he has yet to play a game this season.
“Every couple days I see something where he looks like he’s got a little more bounce to his step, and I’m able to extend him a little bit more each time,” first-base coach Sam Perlozzo said, who is also infield coach. “The number of reps he takes has increased each time. I can see steady improvement.”
But a timetable for Utley remains frustratingly unclear as patellar tendinitis is a tricky beast.
“The next step is just to continue doing what I’m doing and to hope that it responds well and so far it has,” Utley said according to the Delaware News Journal.
While the knee has improved, it is still sore and Utley has yet to cut loose, fearing a setback. He's starting to run and is gradually expanding his lateral movements -- but still hasn't latched on cleats, hasn't run long distances and is not diving or twisting on fielding drills.
Sound discouraging? Well, it is, and just goes to show that Utley still has a long way to go. As long as there's incremental progress, however, Utley will be satisfied.
“From Day 1 until now, it’s been a little bit of a progression, taking more, moving a little bit more,” Utley said. “But it’s still going to be a slow process unfortunately.”