Philadelphia Phillies All-Star second baseman Chase Utley will start the Major League Baseball season on the disabled list because of injured knees.
While Utley didn’t give a timetable for his return, he dispelled rumors the condition might end his season or career. Utley said he’ll undergo daily therapy and strength training for chondromalacia, which he described as a roughening of the cartilage under the patella in the knees.
“It’s not bad enough to have micro-fracture surgery,” Utley, 33, told reporters yesterday at the Phillies’ spring training camp in Clearwater, Florida. “It’s not bad enough to end my career. There’s a lot of wear and tear in this game, and I just have to get things around my knee to move better to take a little pressure off my knee.”
Utley missed the Phillies’ first 46 games last season because of knee pain and ended up posting a .259 batting average and 11 home runs, both the lowest since his rookie year, in 103 games. The nine-year veteran left camp last week to meet with a specialist about his condition.
Utley said he’ll be on the disabled list when the Phillies open the regular season on April 5 in Pittsburgh. Philadelphia, which had the best record in baseball last season at 102-60, also will start without first baseman Ryan Howard, who is recuperating from a torn Achilles tendon.
“It’s going to take a little bit of time,” said Utley, who also missed 47 games to injury during 2010. “I’m not happy that I’m in this situation right now, but I’m not going to let that deter me and get me down.”
Utley, a five-time All-Star, has a .290 career batting average and 188 home runs. He hit more than 30 home runs three times in four-year stretch from 2006-09.
“I have to do this right,” Utley said. “It’s important, not only for this year, but for the rest of my career. I’m 33 years old. I know some people think that’s old, but I still feel like I have a lot of baseball left in me.”
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