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Phils, Utley seek noninvasive solution

CLEARWATER — With 2B Chase Utley unable to play in any spring training game because of a right knee injury, the Phillies are exploring non-surgical options.

The Phillies said an MRI exam of the five-time All-Star on Monday revealed tendinitis, bone inflammation and chondromalacia, or pain caused by irritation under the kneecap.

"We're still doing and researching who exactly we want to get opinions from," GM Ruben Amaro said. "We're just trying to find the best people to treat this."

Utley wants to avoid surgery.

"I think that's the last resort at this point," he said. "We're going to try to exhaust every avenue prior to that."

Utley, 32, has had tendinitis in his knee at other times in his career, but the pain never persisted as long as it has this spring. He has been limited to pregame batting practice.

"Batting doesn't bother me. Playing catch doesn't bother me," Utley said. "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."

EXTENSION PENDING: Manager Charlie Manuel and the team are close to an agreement on a two-year contract extension through 2013 that reportedly will be worth $3.5 million to $4 million per season.

Yanks: Rivera throws

TAMPA — Yankees closer Mariano Rivera took another step toward pitching in his first spring training game this year.

Rivera, 41, threw 35 pitches during his first batting practice session. He didn't rule out pitching Sunday, while manager Joe Girardi said Sunday or Wednesday would likely be the right-hander's debut.

"It was good, very good," Rivera said. "I threw my pitches. Tried to hit my spots."

Rivera had a 1.80 ERA and 33 saves in 38 chances last season. The 11-time All-Star has 559 regular-season saves, second to Trevor Hoffman's 601.

Jays: Eyes on Slowey

On Tuesday, the Blue Jays had three scouts watching Twins RHP Kevin Slowey, who might be the odd man out in Minnesota's deep rotation, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

According to the paper, Toronto and Minnesota would be a good match, with the Jays well-stocked in the bullpen and the Twins bereft of relievers after the free agent departures of Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, Brian Fuentes, Jon Rauch and Ron Mahay.

Slowey, 26, has never pitched more than 160 innings in a season and had arm problems last year but has a 4.41 ERA in 473 career innings. His walk rate of 1.50 per nine innings ranks second in baseball since his debut in 2007, behind Phillies RHP Roy Halladay (1.42).

.if you go

Blue Jays

Where: Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, 373 Douglas Ave., Dunedin

Tickets: (727) 733-0429 or bluejays.mlb.com

Phillies

Where: Bright House Field, 601 Old Coachman Road, Clearwater

Tickets: (727) 467-4457 or phillies.mlb.com

Yankees

Where: Steinbrenner Field, corner of Dale Mabry and Martin Luther King, Tampa

Tickets: (813) 879-2244 or yankees.mlb.com

Phils, Utley seek noninvasive solution 03/09/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 8:47pm]
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