02/17/09 6:00 PM EST
Utley closer to being ready for opener
Feliz yet to take field, though Manuel says he will this week
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
It sounded like it might be the other way around when Feliz had surgery on his lower back Nov. 20 and Utley had surgery on his right hip Nov. 24. The Phillies estimated Feliz would need eight to 12 weeks to complete his rehabilitation program, while Utley would need four to six months to recover from his surgery.
But now, it seems like Utley has a better chance than Feliz to be ready by Opening Day.
"I would say Feliz right now might be on a longer leash than Ut," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "But at the same time, I feel like he's not going to miss very much time."
Feliz didn't participate in fielding drills Tuesday, while Utley did. Utley also hit off the practice tee.
"He's going to start in about three days," Manuel said of Feliz. "He'll start throwing, playing some catch and stuff. We'll work him into some fielding, of course, and hitting. That might take a while."
The Phillies have backup plans, if Feliz or Utley (or both) are not ready Opening Day: Eric Bruntlett, Jason Donald, Marcus Giles and Miguel Cairo.
Manuel said Greg Dobbs would play third base against right-handed pitchers, if Feliz weren't available. Bruntlett, who will make the 25-man roster regardless of what happens, filled in last year for Jimmy Rollins, when Rollins missed a month because of a sprained left ankle. Donald is an up and coming prospect who is working out at second base. He also can play third base.
The Phillies just signed Cairo to a Minor League contract.
"We'll kind of see how both of those come along," Bruntlett said. "Hopefully I'm in the mix to fill that void until they're ready to go. I don't think it really changes much for me, preparation-wise. I tried to be prepared for everywhere all the time. It's not really anything new."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.