Decision on return of Utley 'day-to-day'

Decision on return of Utley 'day-to-day'

NEW YORK -- Chase Utley inched closer to his return to the big leagues, going 0-for-3 in his second rehab game for Class A Clearwater on Sunday.

Utley grounded into a double play, grounded out to third and flied out to left, also committing an error in seven innings at second base.

Utley is scheduled to play both games of Clearwater's doubleheader on Monday, likely serving as the designated hitter for the second game. Asked if he could be with the big club on Tuesday, manager Charlie Manuel said it was "a probability."

"I think he'll let us know," Manuel said. "I trust him. I definitely think he'll be very truthful to us."

Assistant general manager Scott Proefrock wasn't quite as forthcoming about a possible Tuesday return for Utley.

"We're going to reevaluate him after the games tomorrow, and we'll go from there. It's a day-to-day thing," Proefrock said, adding that the team needed to see Utley "swing the bat with authority."

Utley has been out of the lineup since June 28 with a right thumb sprain. Philadelphia has more than tread water since, going 25-17 with Wilson Valdez getting most of the playing time at second base. Utley is batting .277 with 11 home runs and 37 RBIs in 72 games this season.

Manuel warned, however, that even with the rehab assignment, it might take Utley a little while to regain his stroke at the plate.

"Sometimes it takes you a while," Manuel said, alluding to the stuggles Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran has endured in his return to the lineup since the All-Star break. "Hopefully Utley's strong and he comes out hitting. That's what I'm hoping for."