Utley receives clearance to begin hitting

Utley receives clearance to begin hitting

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies second baseman Chase Utley has clearance to start swinging a bat again.

Utley, who had surgery July 1 to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb, visited hand specialist Andrew Weiland on Wednesday in New York. Weiland, who performed the surgery, told Utley he could begin hitting.

"Which is very positive news from our perspective," Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said before Wednesday's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park. "From this point forward it's going to be a matter of how he feels and how he progresses. We're still on the same timetable we've been on before. It's gone pretty much according to plan to this point."

The Phillies originally estimated Utley would miss eight weeks, which would set his return for Sept. 1.

"I don't think anything has changed from that perspective," Proefrock said. "If it progresses faster than that, great. If it's a little slower than that, great. The main thing is Chase is healthy and ready to play at his full capacity when he comes back."

Utley has said he hopes to return before the end of the month.