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03/15/09 5:25 PM ET

Utley feeling good after spring debut

Phils second baseman on track to be in Opening Day lineup

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Chase Utley had the infamous surgery on his infamous right hip Nov. 24.

He played in a Grapefruit League game Sunday.

Utley, whose recovery time had been estimated to be anywhere from four to six months, appears to be well on schedule to be in the Phillies' Opening Day lineup April 5. He is not expected to play Monday against the Yankees in Tampa, Fla., but it seems a safe bet he will play Tuesday against the Reds in Clearwater.

"I think we're right on track," Utley said after the 2-1 victory over the Cardinals at Bright House Field.

Utley went 0-for-2 in his official Spring Training debut Sunday, after he went 2-for-4 with a double against Minor Leaguers during a scrimmage Saturday at the Carpenter Complex.

"We've discussed over the past few weeks how we wanted to go about this as long as we continued to feel good," Utley said. "We had this general week, for example, to try to get out there and play, and it worked.

"The more I play, the better I feel, the more optimistic I am. As long as we continue to have no setbacks like we haven't had so far, I don't see why we won't be ready for Opening Day."

Utley, who hit leadoff, looked like his old self in many regards Sunday. He ran hard out of the batter's box during a groundout to Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols in the third inning. It was a routine play for Pujols. Utley had no chance to reach safely, but he figured he better run hard to test the hip.

He said it felt fine.

Utley also returned to wearing his uniform the way he typically wears it. He pulled up his pant legs and socks for Saturday's Minor League game. The Phillies require Minor Leaguers to wear their socks up for uniformity purposes.

Utley could have gone to the Carpenter Complex and worn his pants the way he normally wears them -- with the bottom of his pant legs below the ankle -- but he chose not to.

"I didn't want to stand out," Utley said. "They were nice enough to let me play in their game, so I figured I would respect them and do what they do."

The very subtle gesture did not go unnoticed.

"It just shows his humbleness, if you would," said Phillies assistant general manager Chuck LaMar. "It shows his respect for the game. He was here at one time. He's a star because of the way he conducts himself. It doesn't surprise me."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.