Mar 092011
Phillies 2B Chase Utley

Phillies 2B Chase Utley discusses his knee

By Justin Adkins

What was once termed “general soreness”, then patellar tendonitis (or tendinitis, depending on your grasp of the English language), has now escalated to Chase Utley basically being shut down indefinitely while his knee situation is treated and dealt with. 

This morning, Phillies team physician Michael Ciccotti released the following statement: 

“Chase has had mild patellar tendinitis and chondromalacia in the past that have previously resolved quickly. His symptoms returned during his off-season workouts, and he developed some anterior knee pain consistent with his prior history. When he reported to spring training this year, his knee was treated as it had been in the past, however his symptoms continued. An MRI was obtained that demonstrated his prior tendinitis, chondromalacia, and bone inflammation. His chondromalacia symptoms persisted in spite of focused non-operative care, including a cortisone injection. A subsequent cartilage-specific MRI was obtained confirming the initial diagnosis. Continued non-operative treatment is being carried out and additional opinions will be obtained.” 

The fact that Dr. Ciccotti says they will continue with non-operative treatment is about as good a bit of news that can be gleaned from the statement, especially for those expecting surgery if the cortisone shot didn’t work (it didn’t).  He also added a new term to the ever-growing description of the problems with Utley’s knee — chondromalacia, otherwise known as runner’s knee. 

The knee apparently isn’t any worse, but it’s not getting better.  

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan also weighed in with more doom and gloom (quotes from the Zo Zone).  

“Not right now, no,” Amaro said when asked if Utley could play through it.  “He doesn’t feel comfortable enough to be able to play. If he could, knowing Chase, he would be playing. Right now it’s just too much discomfort for him to be playing. And frankly, rest might be the best option here. That’s one of the reasons why we continue to do what we’re doing right now, which is some of the rehab stuff Scott has been doing and Dr. Ciccotti has been doing with him, is rest and some of the other things that he’s done. I think rest may be the best option here.” 

When asked about timeframes, Amaro’s answer wasn’t pretty, and it’s looking more and more that Utley will not only miss pretty much the rest of spring training but the beginning of the season as well.  

“For us this is a long term thing,” Amaro said.  “Frankly, I do not care if he’s making Opening Day, if he’s not making Opening Day. For us, this is for him to be able to play long term. Long term meaning through this year, through next year, through the following year. This is something that we want to make sure he’s 100 percent. When he gets on the field so that we don’t have any missteps beyond that. That’s really the goal here. That’s why we’ve been holding him back so much.” 

Sheridan wasn’t overly forthcoming on how effective these non-operative treatments would be, or even what they are.  

“They can be fairly effective. The problem is that nobody wants to take the time sometimes. That’s the important thing. That we do it the right way. That’s where we’re at.” 

“The progression is very simple. Based on his history we’ve done what we did with him in the past hoping that would resolve. It didn’t, so then you scan it and see what you’ve got going on and try things like the cortisone shot, like we did. And when it doesn’t respond to them … these are all normal kind of steps you would take with anybody. And now we’re at a point where we’re not satisfied with how he responded to the cortisone shot. Now we need to seek and find what information and how other people have best treated this type of condition.” 

Utley himself isn’t sure what the next steps are in his treatment. 

“Those are things we’re discussing right now. Nothing off the top of my head that I could say, but those are things that we’re trying to figure out. We’re trying to pick as many brains as possible and try to treat this appropriately. I imagine if you talked to 20 different doctors you might hear 20 different opinions. We’re trying to get the best doctors in this field and go from there.” 

Utley also confirmed that if season was starting today he would not be playing right. 

“I think at this point, we’re not trying to find the easy way out. I’m trying to look at this in the big picture. That’s the frustrating part because everyone who knows me best knows the only place I’d rather be is on the field. So it is disappointing. But right now it’s probably not in my best interest to be out there.” 

So all we can do is cross our giant foam fingers and hope Utley’s knee gets better ASAP.

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