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Chase Utley's Injury Has Phillies Losing A Chunk Of Value

The sky is falling in Philadelphia Phillies camp. Following the hand surgery of Domonic Brown that will keep him out for an extended period of time, not to mention the long return to full strength, Chase Utley has not responded to a cortisone shot in the knee.

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Utley is suffering from a bad case of patellar tendinitis and bone inflammation, and the knee is not responding to treatment as it has in the past. It sounds like it's finally saying, "I've had enough." Utley has played through the pain and received treatment on it before, but this time things are different.

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The Phillies are having to alter things by not including Utley in their Opening Day plans. He has yet to play in a Spring Training game, and it appears likely he will not. It is also appearing more likely that he won't be playing Opening Day.

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Due to the fact that the Phillies have spent a large sum of money on the current roster, they have little to no room for bigger additions like Michael Young or Chone Figgins. Other candidates mentioned around the Web include Luis Castillo, Jeff Keppinger, David Eckstein and Felipe Lopez. None of these are attractive options outside maybe Keppinger, and it shows how shallow the pool is outside the organization.

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In-house options include Wilson Valdez, Delwyn Young, Josh Barfield and Pete Orr. Valdez makes the most sense, and the others really shouldn't even be on a major league roster. Valdez may be getting a big taste of the action for a second straight season.

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So the Phillies really did not set themselves up to replace an injured starter very well, and it's really not that simple to do so, but with so much spending going on this offseason, perhaps they could have tried a little harder to shore up their depth. It's impossible to replace an Utley this quick and in this way, but the Phillies really are taking a major step backward if he is out for an extended period of time.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.