Although it has looked pretty much inevitable for the past few weeks, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr confirmed today that Chase Utley will indeed begin the year on the disabled list. He said that while Utley has seem some mild improvement since taking a cortisone shot, he's just not a point where he's ready to play. As Amaro told Jayson Stark, "he hasn't seen field yet & we're week away."â†µ
Utley has been able to take batting practice and has apparently even fielded ground balls while seated in a chair... but he's still not able to run or field. As for what's next for Utley, it's hard to say. Stark reported yesterday that Utley would have been open to surgery if he had been given assurances that it would actually get his knee healthy, but he got no such guarantees.
In the meantime, the likely man to start opening day at second base is Wilson Valdez although the newly signed Luis Castillo will certainly be in the mix as well. Speaking of Castillo, you want a stat that shows pretty clearly the dropoff that the Phils will experience without Utley?â†µ
Extra-base hits by Castillo over the last three seasons combined: 33.â†µ
Extra-base hits by Utley in 2009 AT THE ALL-STAR BREAK: 34.â†µ