After working to get his knees back to playing-level health (and maybe taking some time to be the drummer for Nickelback), Chase Utley is back … kind of.
He’s set to play for Lehigh Valley on Tuesday, with the plan being to activate him for the Phillies on Wednesday, according to CSN. He’ll likely start with some pinch-hitting or late inning replacement work before getting a start, but who really knows what’s going on in Uncle Cholly’s head. So what does this mean for the Phils right now? Very little. Chase Utley will never again be the Chase Utley of years past, as his knee problem will not go away, he’ll just learn how to play with it. His return to the lineup can change how pitchers throw to the other Phils though, which benefits no one more than Hunter Pence, who might actually see better pitches (though he’ll likely still swing at all of them) with runners in scoring position.
The bullpen is still an absolute mess, and the decision on whether to buy or sell at the trade deadline still has to be made. But the team will now be officially on the road to recovery, with Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay likely returning shortly after the All-Star break. The team might only play a little better, but they’ll feel more familiar doing so, and that will help. Chase, we can’t wait to see you back on the field, and we’re predicting at least 3 games before you hear your first boos. Welcome back.