Utley Hopes to Be Back Earlier Than 8 Weeks
Utley had surgery Thursday for a torn ligament in his right thumb. The Phillies estimated he will miss approximately eight weeks.
He said today he could be back earlier than that.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I’m pretty optimistic.”
Utley broke his right hand in July 2007, and the Phillies said he needed three to four weeks to recover. He returned in four. He had surgery on his hip in Nov. 2008, and the Phillies said he needed four to six months to recover. Utley was ready by Opening Day 2009.
Utley has an appointment next week to have his cast removed, which will be replaced by a smaller cast he can remove as needed. He said he needs five weeks to let the ligament heal and one week to get his mobility back. He hopes to begin baseball activities after that.
“I would like to be playing baseball at six weeks-ish,” he said.
Utley played just three rehab games with Double-A Reading in 2007, when he missed a month with his broken hand. He went 1-for-10 for Reading, rejoined the Phillies and hit .321 with five home runs, 21 RBIs, a .397 on-base percentage and a .519 slugging percentage to help the Phillies win their first National League East championship since 1993.
Utley said because his thumb will be immobile longer than his broken hand, he might need an extra rehab game or two, but not much more.
“Yeah, I might be back before eight weeks,” he said. “Obviously, knowing that I’ve come back from an injury before and I’ve been successful, yeah, that’s good to know. I’m going to do everything that I’m allowed to do, up until the point that I play, in being ready. Once this (cast) comes off, I’ll be able to take ground balls. Obviously, keep this (hand) out of the way. The only thing I won’t be able to do is throw or hit. I’m going to try to stay in shape as best I can.”
But will Utley be back in enough time to make a difference? The Phillies have lost five of seven games since he injured his thumb June 28 in Cincinnati.
“We have a ton of talent,” Utley said. “Obviously, we’re not at full strength at this point. But I think we have enough talent and desire to overcome that. It’s going to be a tough time, but no one ever said it was going to be easy. I think we’re up to the challenge.”
I will be signing copies of my book Saturday from 4-4:45 p.m. during Pigapalooza at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown.