Q & A with Chase Utley
Chase Utley just got through speaking to the media about his ailing right knee. Here is that conversation in its entirety.
Q: How does your knee feel in relation to last week, two weeks ago, etc?
Utley: We all know I had a cortisone shot a week ago or so, I got a little bit of relief from it, but not as much as I anticipated. So on that front nothing has changed a whole lot. I'm still taking batting practice, I'm still playing catch. I'm just trying to take it easy on my legs right now.
Q: How much do you know about this ailment?
Utley: It's something I've tried to educate myself more and more on. I'm trying to get as many opinions possible on how to treat it. There's no black and white here. It's something that you have to deal with. Obviously it's a little frustrating right now, but you have to look at the big picture. We're trying to get his resolved quickly, but also being in good spirits for the long run.
Q: Is surgery a last resort, or something you have to realize is on the table?
Utley: I think that’s the last resort at this point. We're going to try to exhaust every avenue prior to that. Continue to see how it goes and monitor it on a day to day basis. It's frustrating, but at this point I have to stay positive and stay on top of things.
Q: Are you scheduled to fly out or see a specialist?
Utley: As of now, no. We're trying to put as much information together as possible, try to pick as many brains as possible to figure out the best way to go about this.
Q: Do you anticipate playing this season, could it end your season?
Utley: As I said, my goal is to alleviate this as quickly as possible, but still keeping in mind that I have a career ahead of me.
Q: Do you have sense for what non-surgical options are?
Utley: Those are things we're discussing right now. those are things we're trying to figure out. We're trying to pick as many brains as possible to treat this appropriately. I imagine if you talk 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.
Q: You mentioned last week you have had cortisone shots to treat it before?
Utley: I've had a few cortisone shots over the course of my career, cortisone is there to relieve symptoms if you've had them. things like that have worked in the past. Right now, it's not working as much as it has in the past. We'll continue to keep plugging away
Q: Were those shots for the knee?
Utley: Like I said, I've had a few shots in the past. Here and there.
Q: An uneducated person might say, just have surgery, be out 4-6 weeks and come back. Wouldn't it make sense to get it done and not miss bulk of season?
Utley: What you said made sense. But it's not that cut and dry.
Q: Are your people working with Phils people to resolve this?
Utley: We're trying to stick together with this, we're trying to exhaust all the avenues. The Phillies medical staff has done an outstanding job trying to contact the most people they can to get the most information they can that will move us in the right direction
Q: You've had numerous injuries in last 4 years. Can you change playing style?
Utley: I broke my hand a few years ago, which is, in my opinion, a freak thing. I tore a ligament in my thumb, which again is fairly freakish type of injury. I had a hip issue a few years ago that we treated and it’s responded extremely well. In that aspect, it’s tough. I’ve played this game for a little while, and I feel like I play it the right way. I don’t know any other way to play it.
Q: But is it in your DNA to be able to change way you play?
Utley: That’s a good question. I guess time will tell.
Q: If the season started now, could you play through pain?
Utley: 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, and that’s the frustrating part because everyone that knows me best knows the only place I’d rather be in on the field. It is disappointing but right now it’s probably not in my best interest to get out there.
Q: How hard is it watching these games from dugout?
Utley: It’s not a whole lot of fun to be honest. You’ve been around me enough to know that I enjoy playing. That’s where I feel most comfortable. Being in the dugout is not the most comfortable feeling.
Q: When do you feel the pain?
Utley: Batting doesn’t bother me whatsoever. Playing catch doesn’t bother me. The pounding on it – the jumping and the running – there’s definitely pain there. Those are things that I’ve had in the past that have gone away with treatment but right now it’s not going away. We’re just trying to do the best things we can to alleviate this.
Q: Are you able to do cardio?
Utley: We’re doing everything I possibly can to stay in shape without putting stress on my lower body.
Q: Tough to stay positive?
Utley: It can be difficult when things aren’t going your way. That shows somebody’s true character. It can be difficult at times, but at this point I can’t change anything I did in the past. I can only move forward with a positive attitude.
Q: Do you have expectations for when you can play or is it a big mystery like it is to everyone else?
Utley: It really is unknown. I’m doing everything I can to try to get back on the field, but there is no timetable. We’re not going to look for the short-term solution. I want to be smart about this and realize I have three years left on this contract to fulfill.
Q: Tougher because of expectations for this team this year?
Utley: I think the good way to look at it is we have a very strong pitching staff and an established veteran team that knows how to win. It’s disappointing to not feel like you’re a part of that right now, but I have a lot of confidence in my teammates.
Click here for video of some of Utley's Q&A.
From the earlier blog post:
The latest prescription for Chase Utley's ailing right knee? Rest.
The current objective for the Phils medical staff and management? Explore all non-surgical options in an attempt to fix the knee.
As the Phillies pass the midway point of spring training the move closer to Opening Day, Friday April 1, their second baseman isn't any closer to returning to the field. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. summoned the media for an update on Utley's knee and the main message: the Phils are moving along cautiously, hoping to avoid surgery and really aren't concerned if Utley isn't in the lineup for Opening Day.
"For us this is a long-term thing," Amaro said. "Frankly I do not care if he's making opening day or not making Opening Day. for us this is for him to be able to play long-term. Long-term meaning through this year, through the next year, through the following. This is something we want to make sure that he's 100 percent when he gets on the field so we don't have any missteps beyond that. That’s really the goal here. And that’s why we've been holding him back so much."
Two weeks into the exhibition schedule in Florida, Utley has not participated in any games. He had a cortisone shot on his knee Friday, but it didn't not alleviate the pain.
When asked it Utley could play through the pain if needed, Amaro's answer was a definitive "no."
"Not right now, no - he doesn't feel comfortable enough to play," Amaro said. "And if he would, knowing Chase, he would be playing. But right now there's too much discomfort for him to be playing. And frankly, rest might be the best option here. And that’s why we're contiuiing to do what we're doing right now, which is some of the rehab stuff he's done with (team physician) Dr. (Michael) Ciccotti and (head athletic trainer) Scott (Sheridan). Rest and some of the other things. Rest might be the best option."
The Phils medical staff and management are scouring the medical field for options and answers as to best treat what Dr. Ciccotti diagnosed as "mild patellar tendinitis and chondromalacia."
"It’s the undersurface of the patella, roughly, that’s the best term to give it," Sheridan said explaining chondromalacia. "Most all of us have it. If we've done anything actve in our life, we have some of that in our knee cap it's pretty standard."
If surgery is necessary anyway, the Phils could not put a definitive time table, other than to confidently say that Utley would be able play in 2011. They can't determine a time table because they won't know more about the goings-on inside Utley's knee until they actually go inside his knee surgically.
But they're hoping to avoid that.
"We're still doing and researching who exactly we want to get opinions from," Amaro said. "We're just trying to find the best people to treat this.
"We're trying to do this non-operatively. That’s one of the reasons why - we'd rather not go in there and operate. We're trying to treat this non-operatively, and if there's a way to do this, we're going to exhaust all of those options, all of those possibilites. Now it may turn out that we have to do something as far as operations are concerned, but the goal is to try to get him well without doing that."