In an interview with Davey Lopes, the Phillies first base coach, published today by Baseball Prospectus, Lopes let it slip that Chase Utley is hurt. When talking about the team’s lack of stealing bases, Lopes had several comments including this one:
“Chase [Utley] has been hampered by a little bit of a knee injury. That’s more than likely why our numbers are down, but it’s still confusing to me as to why they haven’t been as aggressive in attempting to steal.”
According to Lopes, this seems like a minor issue. However, Utley has not been productive for a long time now. In the entire month of June, Utley has just 9 hits in 49 at-bats with 2 RBI, no homers and only 2 extra-base hits, both doubles. These numbers are not typical of a healthy Utley, but he constantly insists that he is healthy when questioned.
Hiding an injury is not new for Utley; his hip problem in 2008 which required off-season surgery was also not disclosed until then GM Pat Gillick let the cat out of the bag during an interview. The same has happened again, only with Lopes as the loose-lipped culprit.
This begs the question, is Utley’s issue more serious than anyone knows and is he hurting the team by continuing to play? If some time-off will help, he should take the time off and get himself straight. While Utley’s tough-guy, play at all costs mentality is admirable, it is also not helping his team. And the cloak and dagger technique used trying to hide the issue does nothing but prompt more questions and speculation.
According to CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said, “Davey Lopes is not a doctor,” and was quite upset about the comment. Although, Amaro did admit to Utley having “soreness” in the knee, but not a full-fledged injury. Yes, ball players get “sore” throughout the season. So again, why all the cloak and dagger when this is a common occurrence among ball players?
I am not a doctor either, but I am fairly certain that if a bear stops eating, something is wrong. Bears like to eat; Utley likes to hit. Right now, it is just not happening.
What are your thoughts on the subject? Feel free to chime in below in the comments section.
Utley photo by Jenn Zambri Photography