Jul 062010

July 6 Philadelphia Inquirer

“Chase Utley and J.A. Happ have something in common.

Both of them want to be back working in a big-league ballpark near you as soon as possible, but it appears as though they are going to have to wait a while.

Speaking for the first time since suffering a torn thumb ligament that required surgery last week in New York, Utley said he is hoping to accelerate his comeback from a projected eight-week absence.

“I don’t have a target date, but I hope to be back playing some kind of baseball in the six weeks-ish area,” Utley said.

“The numbers that were originally told to me were five weeks . . . for it to heal back properly, another week or so to get the movement back in your hand, and as far as the baseball standpoint, two, three, four, five games to get back into shape that way,” Utley said before Monday’s game against the Atlanta Braves. “Obviously, we’ll have to see how it goes, but at this point, I’m pretty optimistic.”

Utley is wearing a white cast that goes up to his right forearm. He said that will be removed at some point next week and he’ll be fitted for a smaller cast that will also keep his surgically repaired thumb immobilized.

When the second baseman fractured his right hand in 2007, he underwent surgery and was expected to miss from four to six weeks. He returned in four weeks and batted .321 with five home runs and 21 RBIs in the Phillies’ final 32 games, helping the team win its first National League East title in 13 years.

“Knowing that I’ve come back from an injury before and been successful, yeah, that’s good to know,” Utley said. “I’m going to do everything I’m allowed to do up until the point where I’m ready. Once [the big cast] comes off, I’ll start taking some ground balls, obviously keeping the [injured] hand out of the way. The only thing I won’t be able to do is throw or hit. I’m going to try to stay in shape. The last time in 2007, I played, like, three rehab games. This one is a little longer, so maybe I’ll need another game.”

Utley said he doesn’t know if he will attend the July 13 All-Star Game in Anaheim, Calif. He was voted in as a starter by the fans.

“I haven’t really decided what I’m going to do,” he said. “I have an appointment next week to get this ugly thing off.”

Happ, meanwhile, is in limbo after making his sixth appearance as part of his 30-day rehab assignment Sunday at triple-A Lehigh Valley. He pitched 51/3 innings and allowed four runs on six hits during the IronPigs’ 6-4 win over Pawtucket. He walked four and struck out one.”

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