Alert: We’ve had a confirmed Chase Utley sighting

On Monday, Philadelphia's theoretical second baseman, Chase Utley, joined his teammates in Phoenix for the opener of a three-game series with the Diamondbacks. He engaged in a few baseball-related activities, including batting practice (pictured here) and dugout sitting (pictured above).

This seems like good news, but there's still no timetable for Utley's return to the lineup. His knee problems haven't gone away. Details right here, via Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly:

Utley has spent the last three weeks rehabbing his sore knees with Phoenix-based physical therapist Brett Fischer. The 33-year-old second baseman, out of sight since spring training, joined his Phillies teammates for pregame workouts before Monday night's game against Arizona.

Utley took batting practice and fielded ground balls. Both exercises carried significance. Utley said that his knees did not hurt when he hit. He couldn't say that since last season. He felt discomfort in his left knee while taking ground balls, but the pain was less than he felt during spring training, when he had to stop taking ground balls early in camp.

So Utley is still experiencing pain, but it's less pain than he experienced last month. When the Phillies leave Arizona later this week, he'll remain behind to continue the rehab work with Fischer. Utley's knee trouble is the result of a cartilage condition called chondromalacia, and it sounds like he'll be dealing with discomfort for the rest of his career. (Important note: Chondromalacia is totally different from coprophagia, a condition my dog just can't shake. If Chase Utley comes down with coprophagia ... well, wow. Then we'll have a story).

The Phillies are 5.5 games out of first in the NL East at the moment, and we don't have an ETA on either Utley or Ryan Howard (Achilles). Utley didn't make his 2011 debut until May 23, for whatever that's worth. It's been suggested that he could play first base for Philadelphia this season, if he somehow manages to return before Howard.

"When we have to decide on that," says Charlie Manuel, "we will."

Hunter Pence is currently sidelined by a shoulder issue, and Cliff Lee — one of the few Phillies who cannot be replaced by Ty Wigginton — just went on the DL with an oblique injury. So, in a nutshell, Philadelphia's roster is a big, broken mess.

If you're tied to this team in fantasy, feel free to use the comments section to express your displeasure (or your hope, if that's possible).

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