Utley Talks About His Progress
Chase Utley just spoke with reporters. It is the first time he has talked at length about his chronic knee pain since March 9.
He said he has made some progress, but offered no timetable for his return, although he said his goal is to be back before the All-Star break. Ruben Amaro Jr. later said they have no plans to plan him on the 60-day disabled list, which could be encouraging.
Here is some of what Utley said:
Q: Have you improved at all?
A: Yeah, over the past few weeks I think we have made some progress for obviously the good. We’re going to continue to stay on top of what we’ve been doing. I’m optimistic at this point we’re going to continue doing what we’re doing and go from there.
Q: Are you close to running? Are you close to taking grounders?
A: Yeah, I’ve started to take some light ground balls the past few days. And that’s definitely a positive. We haven’t started running yet. We’re going to kind of let my body dictate how it’s going and make progressions from there. I think at this point we want to take steps forward and not backward, and so far we’re doing that.
Q: What are you optimistic about? Getting on the field or avoiding surgery?
A: I think both. Absolutely. The whole goal is to get back on the field and in my mind we’re making the right steps to do that.
Q: Is it within grasp? Do you have a timetable?
A: No, right now there is no timetable. I think we’ve been pretty patient with it, and I think we’re going to continue to. I think that’s the smart thing to do and we’re going to stay on that track.
Q: You said there’s progress. How would you describe that progress?
A: I think being able to take ground balls fairly light, not a whole lot of intensity, just to be able to do that pain free was important.
Q: Who is the specialist you saw? And how many have you seen?
A: If I tell you I have to kill you.
Q: What’s the big secret?
A: I don’t know. You guys know me by now, right?
Q: In your mind will you be on the field this year?
A: Yes, that’s my goal. Absolutely.
Q: Do you feel confident that will happen?
A: I think so. As long as we continue to take steps forward and not backward that’s definitely a possibility.
Q: How much research have you done on surgery? And if you had surgery would be microfracture?
A: Again, you can talk to 10 different doctors and they’ll probably give you 10 different answers. The surgery is probably … there are a few different types of surgeries that guys would probably recommend. None of them I would feel that comfortable with at this point. I think we can alleviate this without the surgery, but time will tell.
Q: Ruben said a couple weeks ago surgery is risky. It could help, but there also is real risk it could make the condition worse. Is that your understanding? Could it make your condition worse?
A: That’s what a few different doctors have said. Hey, listen, if surgery was the answer and I could be back on the field in six weeks guaranteed it would be a no brainer. But I don’t think that’s the case. I think it’s a little unpredictable at this point. I want to take as many steps as I can to avoid that surgery and see what happens.
Q: Are you moving laterally with these ground balls?
A: I’m moving a little bit laterally. Nothing too intense, but I’m definitely moving around.
Q: Is it tough not to have a timetable? You’ve always beat timetables in the past.
A: I think at this point to try to put a timetable on it wouldn’t be beneficial. I think I have to listen and respect the way my body is responding and make progressions off of that. If it tells me to slow down a little bit, obviously it’s not what I want to do, but I understand that’s the smart thing to do. As long as we’re moving forward, like I said, I think we’re good with it.
Q: Are you treating in any way other than normal stretching and rehab? Injections?
A: We’ve come up with a good stretching program. I guess you could say massage-type program. A little bit more intense than just a standard massage, and I think it’s loosening everything up, which allows my knee to work a little more efficiently.
Q: If you can calm this down and get back on the field, are you fearful the way you play — pounding on it – will make it flare up again?
A: That crossed my mind. That’s why we’re trying to take this process slowly to read how I’m responding. You might try something one day and see how you respond the next day. If it’s OK and everything feels OK you can make progressions off that. As long as you’re moving in the right direction I think we’ll be OK.
Q: How difficult has this whole process been?
A: Obviously it’s been a little bit frustrating. I enjoy playing. I enjoy being on the field with my teammates. But I do also understand I need to be patient with this. It’s not something that’s going to change overnight. It’s going to take a lot of work on my end, a lot of work on the trainer’s end, to make this go away. So definitely it’s frustrating, but I’m trying to stay positive about it.
Q: is this something you’ll have to deal with the rest of your career? Or can it go away?
A: I believe it’s something that can go away, yeah.
Q: How many doctors have you talked to?
A: More than a few. I’m trying to pick as many brains as possible and try to put a good game plan together to alleviate this. I think we’re doing the right thing.
Q: You said there is no timetable, but do you see yourself back before the All-Star break? That’s three months away.
A: That would be a goal, yes.