Since being sidelined with chronic right knee pain five weeks ago, Chase Utley has had each of his steps well documented. Whether it's taking batting practice or fielding while seated on a stool, the second baseman's slow progress has been the focal point on a championship-caliber team awaiting the return of a guy Roy Halladay referred to as "the Derek Jeter of the National League."
But Utley has yet to take an important step: He hasn't been cleared to begin running. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. debunked a FoxSports.com story that said Utley would begin jogging soon prior to Tuesday's game against the New York Mets.
Amaro said Utley remains listed day-to-day.
"He's not ready to run," Amaro said before the Phillies began a three-game series with the Mets on Tuesday night. "He's not close to jogging. If he was close to jogging, he'd be jogging I guess. The deal is, that would be the next step. He's been taking ground balls and he's done OK with that so far. But still, it's baby steps, one step at a time."
Utley began taking ground balls, without a stool, just before the Phillies broke camp in Clearwater, Fla., last week. Over the weekend, he began practicing double-play pivots. But Amaro said the five-time All-Star is still not going through his rehab pain-free.
"Right now he feels some discomfort," Amaro said of Utley's fielding work. "But not to the point where it's debilitating for him. He's made some progress whereas it's not as painful."
When Utley is cleared to run -- and then play -- he will go on a minor league rehab assignment. It's unclear how long he will need, but Utley hasn't seen live pitching since October.
"I think Chase probably needs to play five or six days something," manager Charlie Manuel said. "He won't need a month. I'd like for him to go to spring training and get 70 or 80 at-bats, but at the same time, I don't think we're going to be able to do that."
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