Utley to undergo hip surgery next week

Phillies star could miss Opening Day.

MLB.com and ESPN—Philadelphia—November 20, 2008

Chase Utley will have right hip surgery next week, a procedure that threatens his Opening Day availability and deals a potentially huge blow to the World Series champions' hopes of repeating.

Rehabbing from the procedure is supposed to take four to six months, which would put Utley's return sometime between April and late May. Head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan said the team won't know the extent of the injury until after the surgery, though the team is looking at the same recovery timetable, regardless.

"You don't necessarily replace an Utley," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "At the same time, our feeling is he's going to be fairly close to ready, if not ready, by Opening Day. A lot depends on how the surgery goes, how the rehab goes. This isn't an exact science, but we fully expect to have Chase Utley with us for the bulk of the season."

Distressing news about Utley is of particular concern to a team that celebrated its first World Series title since 1980 less than one month ago. Utley is the team's best hitter and one of its on-field leaders, a hard-nosed player who treats every play as if it's his last.

Utley consistently shrugged off speculation about his condition, always joking or smiling. His name popped up on the team's internal injury report in mid-May, but Utley kept playing.

Since the World Series ended, Utley has had several diagnostic studies on the hip, and Phillies team physician Michael Ciccotti, of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital's Rothman Institute, and Dr. Bryan Kelly, of Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, recommended surgery.

The procedure was described by the team as an "arthroscopic evaluation with treatment of any labral or bony injury." Sheridan said the surgery is similar to the procedure Kelly performed last month on Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell. The Red Sox expect Lowell's recovery to take five months, making him ready for Opening Day, but Sheridan said each case is different.

The Phillies hope Utley can resume baseball activities after three to four months, then go from there.

Read the full story at mlb.com and ESPN.

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