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Utley could be out until June following hip surgery


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If the Philadelphia Phillies weren't aware before Thursday of how hard it can be to repeat, the World Series champs know that now.

 

Utley

The team announced Thursday that second baseman Chase Utley will need right hip surgery that potentially could keep him out until the first week of June.

 

Utley consistently downplayed speculation about his bad hip during the second half of the postseason. But the Phillies revealed Thursday that since the World Series, he has had the hip evaluated by Phillies team physician Michael Ciccotti, of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital's Rothman Institute, and by Dr. Bryan Kelly, of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

 

Both doctors recommended that Utley undergo surgery on his right hip. That procedure, described by the club as an "arthroscopic evaluation with treatment of any labral or bony injury," will take place next week.

 

According to the Phillies, Utley would be able to resume baseball activities in three to four months -- meaning sometime during spring training, but possibly not until the week before opening day.

 

However, full recovery time is projected at between four and six months. That means the best-case scenario is a return in early April, but the worst-case scenario is late May or early June, depending on how long a rehab option the club feels he would need.

 

Utley's hip issues were one of baseball's worst-kept secrets over the last four months of the year. Opposing players, coaches and scouts began wondering as early as mid-June whether he was playing with some sort of injury to his lower half.

 

Over the first eight weeks of the season, through June 3, Utley led the major leagues in home runs (21), and batted .321, with a .408 on-base percentage, .684 slugging percentage and 53 RBIs -- the second-most in the National League.

 

But over the final four months, he batted only .272, with 12 homers, 51 RBIs, a .362 on-base percentage and .446 slugging percentage. He hit just .220 in the postseason, but did hit two home runs during the World Series.

 

Philles GM Ruben Amaro Jr. wasn't immediately available for comment. However, the Phillies plan to step up their pursuit of bench help and potential fill-ins.

 

Their free-agent shopping list is believed to include Tadahito Iguchi, who replaced Utley for a month after he broke his hand in 2007, and former Phillie Nick Punto. They also have kicked around the idea of converting highly regarded shortstop prospect Jason Donald to second base.

 

The Phillies also announced Thursday that third baseman Pedro Feliz will need lower back surgery. Feliz, however, is expected to be ready for opening day after his surgery, which will be performed by renowned back surgeon Dr. Robert Watkins in Los Angeles.

 

Jayson Stark is a senior baseball writer for ESPN.com.

Related Topics: MLB, Philadelphia Phillies, Chase Utley

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