Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, who's fighting his way back from chronic knee problems, has temporarily rejoined the team after a six-week recuperative stint in Arizona. Utley's not going to be activated any time soon, but Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer has a possible time frame for his return. Gelb writes that, while no minor-league rehab assignment is yet scheduled (he's not likely to begin one before Thursday), Utley "is nearing the point where testing his chronically injured knees in games is a reality."
Gelb also notes that last season Utley's minor-league rehab assignment lasted 11 days, and, projecting outward, that would mean Utley, barring a setback of course, could be looking at a return to the active roster no sooner than three weeks from now. Of course, it's his left knee this time around, and in the past Utley's mostly been bothered by his right knee. But both have been patella problems, so the comparison holds to an extent. All in all, a timetable of sorts, rough and vague though it may be, constitutes progress.
Needless to say, the Phillies need Utley. (They also need for Charlie Manuel to get over his aversion to using Jonathan Papelbon in tie games, but that's a jeremiad for another day.) Utley's replacement, Freddy Galvis, is hitting just .185/.214/.284 on the season, so even a diminished Utley would be an upgrade of some note.
Second basemen don't tend to age well, and given Utley's serious knee problems his MVP-caliber days are almost certainly behind him. Still, the Phillies are burdened with one of the worst offenses in baseball, and Utley would certainly help matters.
So maybe his return is sorta-kinda within view? For the punchless Phillies, it can't come soon enough.