Phils' Utley likely out for opener

CLEARWATER — Phillies 2B Chase Utley will likely start the season on the disabled list for the second straight year because of problems with both knees.

The five-time All-Star left camp to see a specialist, and it's uncertain when he'll be ready to play.

Utley, 33, was believed to have only an injured right knee, but general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. indicated Monday the left one may be causing more trouble.

"The guy's got bad knees. We know it and that's a fact," Amaro said. "We're just trying to limit and also make sure he's ready to go and play the bulk of the season. He told me his right knee feels much better. His left has been bothering him."

Utley hasn't played in a game this spring because of his condition, which forced him to miss all of last spring and the first 46 games of the regular season. He was diagnosed in February 2011 with patellar tendinitis, bone inflammation and chondromalacia, which is pain due to irritation under the kneecap. Surgery didn't guarantee a cure, so he opted for rehab and played through pain when he came back.

"We haven't had any discussions about surgery," Amaro said. "He's got a cartilage issue. You can't grow cartilage. It's partially tendinitis and partially a cartilage issue."

The tight-lipped Utley said Saturday he hoped to play in a game this week. Those plans are on hold. However, Amaro expressed some optimism that Utley isn't going to miss a significant part of the season.

"He's been improving the last couple weeks, but not to the point where he can get on the field," Amaro said.

PITCHER CUT: The Phillies released veteran RHP Joel Pineiro, who signed a minor-league contract in January.

Yanks: Cano okay

TAMPA — The Yankees got good news on All-Star 2B Robinson Cano, who was hit by a pitch on his left hand in Sunday night's game against the Orioles. X-rays were negative, and Cano was diagnosed with a bruise on the side near his pinkie.

Cano likely will be held out as a precaution until at least Friday. The Yankees were off on Monday. SS Derek Jeter (sore left calf) also might not play until the weekend.

Jays: Brutal honesty

DUNEDIN — When, or perhaps if, Omar Vizquel's career comes to an end, he may have a future in the broadcast booth.

The shortstop, 44, who is trying to make the Blue Jays as a backup infielder, was a guest of Toronto broadcasters Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler during Sunday's game against the Phillies, and his candor made quite an impression.

Asked about incumbent starting SS Yunel Escobar, Vizquel didn't mince words: "He has to improve the mental game a bit.

"The shortstop position, you have to dominate the game in so many different aspects. He has to communicate, has to be a presence out there for the pitchers. I'm going to try to keep him more in the game. He loses his head out there when he's 0-for-3, 0-for-4. He's thinking about his (at-bats) and that's something we cannot do when we play the infield."

>>LOCAL CAMPS

Blue Jays

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

Today: at Red Sox, 7:05, Fort Myers

Info: bluejays.com/spring

training; (727) 733-0429

Phillies

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

Today: at Orioles, 1:05, Sarasota

Info: phillies.com/spring

training; (727) 467-4457

Yankees

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

Today: vs. Pirates, 7:05, Tampa

Info: yankees.com/spring

training; (813) 879-2244

Phils' Utley likely out for opener 03/19/12 [Last modified: Monday, March 19, 2012 8:46pm]

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