Thrill of the Chase Returning?
Philadelphia Phillies five-time All-Star second baseman Chase Utley has been cleared to begin a rehabilitation assignment today at extended spring training in Clearwater, FL, according to an Associated Press report. Utley's career once appeared to be on a Hall-of-Fame trajectory, but has been derailed by a litany of significant injuries in recent years. Still just 33 years old, Utley was sidelined for 47 games in 2010 following offseason hip surgery and 59 games in 2011 due to a chondromalacia condition in his right knee. In both seasons, even when Utley did play he exhibited a noticeable decline in power. This season, Utley has yet to take the field due to chondromalacia in his left knee.
When the Phillies opened the season in Pittsburgh in early April, Utley went to Arizona to spend some time with physical therapist Brett Fischer for intensive one-on-one work. He has since been rehabilitating under the supervision of the team, making gradual progress. At Clearwater, he will initially play only as a designated hitter, then start playing second base as well if he experiences no setbacks.
"Right now, I'm feeling pretty good," Utley told the AP. "Still not perfect yet, but we're getting there and we're on the verge of getting a lot better."
It is certainly a positive sign that Utley has progressed to this point, but some observers wonder if his knees will ever allow him to play a full season again, and whether Utley is still capable of performing at the high level he did prior to the injury troubles. What do you think? Have you treated chondromalacia before? Do you believe that Utley can regain his All-Star form?