Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Don't count on Chase Utley for Opening Day

As we creep closer and closer to Opening Day, it's becoming pretty clear that Chase Utley won't be ready to take the field to start the season. With the latest "news" coming out today that Utley basically has tendinitis in his knee and didn't respond to a cortisone shot, the Phillies need to prepare themselves for a few weeks without their number three hitter. While the team has currently stated that surgery is not an option at this time, if things don't get better soon, Utley will certainly go under the knife and miss even more time.

Fortunately, not having Utley in the lineup is something the team has gotten used to over the years. Between his hand problems a few years back and his hip issues last season, Utley has had more than his fair share of injuries. Expect Wilson Valdez, who actually did a solid job for the Phillies last season, to step into the starting second base job until Utley is ready. While Valdez will be a suitable defensive replacement, he doesn't even come close to replacing Utley's bat in the lineup. This unfortunately means we might be headed for a few weeks of Raul Ibanez in the number three spot in the batting order.

While the Phillies do have the best starting rotation in baseball, they are still going to have to score some runs. With Jayson Werth gone and Utley not in the picture right now, there is quite a dropoff from Utley-Howard-Werth in the middle of the lineup last season to Ibanez-Howard-Francisco this season. Hurry back, Chase.

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