Phillies estimate mid-June return for Utley
Second baseman still dealing with soreness in strained right oblique
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies said last week Chase Utley's strained right oblique would take two to four weeks to heal.
They were optimistic he would need just two.
But Utley still feels soreness in the oblique, so the club said Wednesday he is going to need more time than that. The club estimates he will be back sometime in mid-June.
"It's just an injury that's tricky, so we have to be real careful with it," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said at Citizens Bank Park. "He still feels tenderness in there, so we've got to be careful not to let it get to the point where it becomes even more of an injury. We'll just slow play him until he's ready."
Asked if Utley had a setback, Amaro said, "No, not to my knowledge he hasn't had a setback. He's just still tender."
Utley injured himself May 21 during batting practice at Marlins Park, which makes the four-week mark for the recovery June 18. He is eligible to be activated June 5, but that won't happen. But Amaro said Phillies physician Michael Ciccotti told him that Utley is doing very well.
Young on bereavement list; prospect Hernandez up
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies placed Michael Young on the bereavement list Wednesday.
He must miss a minimum of three days. He can miss a maximum of seven.
The Phils recalled Triple-A Lehigh Valley second baseman Cesar Hernandez to take his place for a few days.
"He's the best player we have available at that position," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said about Hernandez. "He gives [manager] Charlie [Manuel] some versatility, a chance to play the guy."
Manuel had Freddy Galvis at third base and Kevin Frandsen at second base Wednesday against the Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park. If Hernandez gets a start before Young returns, he would start at second base with Galvis likely starting at third.
Hernandez was hitting .308 with five doubles, six triples, two home runs, 18 RBIs, 15 stolen bases and an .815 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 210 plate appearances with the IronPigs.
"He's played very well," Amaro said. "He's playing a lot more confidently. Last year, when he played at [Double-A] Reading, he really started to gain confidence and believe in his abilities. He's got some talent. He runs well. He's a switch-hitter. He's not a Punch and Judy -- he can hit the ball into the gaps from time to time. He's a pretty good baserunner. He can steal bases. He's a guy that, frankly, I like quite a bit. It's taken a little bit of time for some of his talents to come out. He's played very, very well this year so far."
Hernandez is unlikely to get a good look with Young expected back, but should the Phillies be sellers before the July 31 Trade Deadline, he could get a chance to prove himself as the team thinks about its 2014 roster. Chase Utley is a free agent following the season.
"He knows he means a lot to us and what we think of him," Amaro said of Hernandez. "I don't know how many opportunities he'll have to play. Hopefully it gives us a chance to see what he can do. You never know how guys are going to react their first time in the big leagues. But he's a talented kid."
Zambrano delivers scoreless outing at Class A
PHILADELPHIA -- Right-hander Carlos Zambrano threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings in a start Tuesday with Class A Clearwater.
He probably needs two to three more starts before the Phillies consider him for a spot on the big league roster. Zambrano signed a Minor League contract this month. He can ask for his release if he is not on the Phillies' roster by July 1.
"I saw him on video," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "I talked to [player development director] Joe Jordan and [Minor League roving pitching coach] Carlos Arroyo, guys who have been asked to keep an eye on him. He threw OK. I don't think he lit the world on fire. But he's gaining arm strength. It was a little better than his last outing. He's getting stretched out. We'll see where he goes from here."
• Left-hander John Lannan, who has been on the disabled list since April 18 because of an injured left knee, threw to hitters Wednesday in Clearwater, Fla. He is scheduled to throw three or four innings Saturday in an extended spring game. If that goes well, he could make a rehab start June 6.
• Triple-A left-hander Adam Morgan is having shoulder issues. The Phillies said he had some diagnostic testing on the shoulder this week, but they had not yet received the results. Morgan is considered one of the organization's top prospects.
• Asked if he is concerned about Ryan Howard's aching left knee, Amaro said, "I think it's kind of a day to day thing. I think he's got some soreness in there, but I don't think it's taken away from his ability to play. There will be days when they may be more sore than other days and he may not be able to play that day. But if it gets to the point where it becomes debilitating to him, then we will have to take a closer look or maybe have to go in there. But right now, he's kind of day to day."
• Catcher Carlos Ruiz has been on the disabled list since May 20 because of a strained right hamstring. Amaro said he is progressing well, although he is not expected back until mid-June.
"He still feels it a little bit," Amaro said. "But the pain is dissipating, so he's starting to do a few more things every day."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.