Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock…
The countdown for Chase Utley’s return to the Phillies’ lineup is finally upon us.
According to CSNPhilly.com, Utley will begin an official minor league rehab assignment tomorrow with High-A Clearwater. The 33-year-old second baseman began playing in extended spring training games last week, but this will be his first real game action since the Phillies lost to the Cardinals in the NLDS last October.
Utley will be eased into action as the designated hitter before testing his knee by playing the field. Position players are given a 20-day rehab window, so assuming he doesn’t have any setbacks physically, the latest he’ll return to the Phillies is July 2. This sets him up for a potential season debut on July 3 against the Mets. Look for the Phillies to give him as much rehab time as possible.
The Angels signed Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani for a $2.3 million signing bonus last weekend. They may have damaged goods on their hands. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Ohtani underwent a physical that revealed a first-degree sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament. As a result, he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on October 20. This was made known to teams after Ohtani entered MLB’s posting system, so it wasn’t like the Angels went into this blind.
Ohtani’s report said, “Although partial damage of UCL in deep layer of his right UCL exists, he is able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program.” It also said Ohtani “will most likely be available to start his throwing program approximately a month from the PRP.”
Passan notes that the report also mentioned that a “small free body” floats in Ohtani’s elbow near his UCL.
Ohtani isn’t without other injuries. He battled hamstring and ankle issues throughout 2017 and underwent right ankle surgery back in October. Thankfully for the Angels, this diagnosis is about as good as it could be considering the circumstances. However, if Ohtani does exacerbate his UCL issue, he may ultimately need Tommy John surgery at some point, which would take him out of action for at least a year.