It is official; Chase Utley will begin his rehab assignment with Class-A Clearwater today. This gives him 20 days to return to the big league club, putting his return around or before July 2, 2012.
Are you totally psyched? No? Yeah, I am not terribly optimistic either. It would just be wrong to expect the Utley of 2008 with 33 homers and a .380 on-base percentage to return. He has battled chronic knee issues for 2+ seasons now. And as of today, he has yet to play the field in a real game.
But in the back of your mind, aren’t you secretly praying, “Save us, Chase! You are the only one who can!”? However, great expectations are usually followed by great disappointment. We cannot expect one man to save the Phillies season. It is tempting though to think it could be possible, even if it is not likely.
So say Utley returns and looks like Mr. World-F*-Champions-era Utley. The expectations will grow even stronger. The problem with that is, some time down the road, those knees are going to start to ache again. As his production decreases, the animosity will build among a fan base that is now used to winning. And that is a recipe for producing some seriously upset fans.
My suggestion then is this: Lower your expectations. Do not look for Utley to be Superman again. Then if he does impress consistently, we can all be pleasantly surprised.
And now that I have just said that, my overactive brain is still concocting miracle scenarios for Utley to save this season. I have tried telling my inner dialogue to shut up, but it is just not listening…
I mean, it is Chase Utley! I have hundreds of Utley collectables, autographs and photos. There is a shrine in my house dedicated to the man. Heck, I even named my cat after him! For God’s sake Mr. Utley, don’t let us all down!!
So much for tempering my expectations…
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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography