CLEARWATER, Fla. -- It has been difficult trying to solve the mystery surrounding Chase Utley this spring.
Utley stopped briefly Saturday morning at Bright House Field to offer the following update:
"We're making progress," Utley said. "I hope to be on the field next week."
It is unclear if that means he will play in a Grapefruit League game or will just get on the practice field. But the Phillies maintain Utley will be ready for Opening Day.
"I don't think there's any chance he won't be ready Opening Day," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Thursday. "We fully expect him to be ready Opening Day."
Of course, it remains to be seen how effective Utley will be once he returns to the lineup. "His problem is not going away," manager Charlie Manuel said. More than likely it maybe never goes away. We want him to be at a real good percentage of playing. Will he ever be 100 percent? I don't know about that. He might never be that."
Polanco's injured finger adds to infield woes
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies infield is already on shaky ground with Ryan Howard and Chase Utley battling injuries.
Now Placido Polanco, whom the Phillies have played sparingly this spring because of his own health concerns, joins the list.
Polanco left Saturday's game against the Blue Jays at Bright House Field after jamming his left ring finger while diving back to first base in the first inning of a 4-3 victory.
Polanco left the ballpark to have X-rays. Results of that exam were not immediately available.
"His said his knuckle kind of got out of joint," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "It kind of popped up. He said he pushed it back down. When he told us that, we took him out of the game."
Polanco might be fine, but his injury only emphasized how thin the Phillies are in the infield, even with some of the offseason moves they made to bolster the bench. In fact, the Phillies are still looking for infield depth.
But Manuel doesn't want just another body.
"I don't want to hear the 'body' [stuff]. I want somebody here that can play," Manuel said. "We're talking about winning the World Series. We talk about getting to the playoffs. Don't say 'body' to me. I'm not a mediocrity kind of guy."
Thome plays four innings at first base
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Jim Thome took his second crack at first base, playing four innings in a Minor League Spring Training game Saturday at Carpenter Complex.
He made five putouts and also got involved in a rundown play in the fourth inning.
"After playing [Monday], I definitely felt a little bit of soreness the next day," Thome said. "Today was much, much better. My plan is to talk to Charlie [Manuel] and maybe come back tomorrow, depending on what he has planned for me. Obviously we have to see how I feel tomorrow, but my plan is to come back and play tomorrow and see how my body feels from that stage."
Thome had been scheduled to play first base Thursday and Friday, but it was pushed back each time.
"I was still a little sore," he said. "Even if I was a little bit sore today I was going to push it anyway just because I need to push my body. I need to know those things now. This is a part of my game now after five or six years of not doing this and I need to know what's soreness and what's not. I have to be smart about it, too. The long haul is to get me ready for however many days Charlie wants to put me there. I'm trying to be good about it and get myself ready.
"I will say it honestly has made me feel younger playing defense again. I think as guys get into the latter stages of their careers and they become DHs, it's very rare that they go back. For me, the challenge of this is, 'Can I do it?' I've always wanted to challenge myself in different parts of the game and this hopefully will challenge me for whatever the role is to be so I can help this club win."
Right-hander Vance Worley allowed four hits and struck out three in four scoreless innings Saturday. He threw 10 more pitches in the bullpen afterward to build arm strength and work on his split-fingered changeup, which is a new pitch. Worley threw just two changeups during the game because he does not yet have a good feel for the pitch.
Worley, who famously wears Oakley glasses on the mound, lost one of his glasses' nose pieces on the mound during the first inning. It caused him some minor irritation before he finished the inning and retrieved a second pair from the clubhouse, which he wore the final three innings.
Right-hander Jose Contreras is scheduled to make his first Grapefruit League appearance Sunday.
Outfielder Laynce Nix, who has been out with sore left ribs, hit in a Minor League Spring Training game.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.