Uh-oh: Chase Utley leaves camp, visiting knee specialist

It's not like we haven't had this fire drill before, so you can't claim to be totally blindsided by the latest Chase Utley news. But still, it's no fun to report.

On Monday, the Phillies announced that Utley had left camp to visit a knee specialist, seeking treatment for his chronic tendinitis. This from CSNPhilly:

"Chase's rehab process has come to a bit of a plateau," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement.  "He has made some strides but not enough to take the field.  He is headed out of town for a few days to be evaluated by a specialist that has helped athletes overcome his issue.  We anticipate that this trip will allow him to build on what he has already done with [athletic trainer] Scott Sheridan in order to get over the hump."

Utley hasn't yet made an appearance in a spring game and he seems likely to open the season on the disabled list for a second straight season. You'll recall that he didn't make his 2011 debut until May 23, due to the basically same issue with the same knee.

Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel offered some unwelcome truth on Utley last week (via MLB.com)...

"His problem is not going away. More than likely, it maybe never goes away. Will he ever be 100 percent? I don't know about that. He might never be that."

...and there's certainly no reason to feel any better about the situation today.

The Phils can replace him in the short term with Freddy Galvis, but fantasy owners need to aim much higher. Galvis has modest speed, but he's been a career .246/.292/.321 hitter in the minors. Philadelphia was wise to pick up Ty Wigginton during the off-season, a baseball multi-tool who can fill a variety of roles, but Wiggy was already penciled into the lineup at first, replacing the rehabbing Ryan Howard.

So yeah, they're dealing with some issues in Philly right now. It's time to adjust your draft board if you haven't done so already. For me, Utley drops a tier or two, beyond Jason Kipnis and Dustin Ackley, down into Neil Walker-Aaron Hill territory ... and he may not be done dropping quite yet.

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