Notes: Utley has stitches removed

Notes: Utley has stitches removed

PHILADELPHIA -- Chase Utley paid a visit to Dr. Randall Culp on Tuesday and had the stitches removed from his mending right hand.

The Phillies' second baseman has not been cleared for gripping or hand exercises, but he will continue to field ground balls and participate in other range-of-motion exercises. Utley will meet with Culp again on Aug. 20.

The All-Star's right hand was broken when he was hit by a pitch on July 26. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list following that day's game.

Manager Charlie Manuel said Tuesday he hadn't talked to Utley since his infielder returned from his visit with Culp, a hand specialist. Manuel did note that without Utley and Shane Victorino (right calf), the Phillies are much less dangerous against right-handed pitching.

"I look at our lineup, and one of the strong points of our lineup is left-handers," Manuel said. "Utley and Victorino were part of that lineup that really runs on right-handed pitchers. We got a different look, but we got to hit the ball. We got to hit the ball for power to score runs more, because we've become slower."

Victorino began a running program Tuesday and is expected to begin a rehab assignment this weekend.

Utley was batting .336 with 17 homers and 82 RBIs when he landed on the disabled list. His replacement, Tadahito Iguchi, has impressed Manuel with his performance.

Manuel said Tuesday hadn't thought much about where Iguchi would land when Utley returns, but the thinking is he may join the platoon at third base.

What's Eaton you? Manuel said Tuesday the option was there to skip Adam Eaton's spot in the rotation, but he hadn't thought much about it.

"[Cole] Hamels is going to pitch more than he's ever pitched," Manuel said. "Jamie Moyer can use the days that he gets. And those are things that come into play."

Eaton's latest struggles came Sunday against the Brewers, when he allowed four runs before escaping the first inning. His first-inning ERA rose to 7.63 with the rocky start.

He allowed two more runs in the fifth before being pulled. He hasn't pitched seven complete innings since June 11.

The right-hander expressed his frustration after the outing at Miller Park, saying he was unsure what his problem is early in games.

"It's, 'What is it? What is it?' as opposed to, 'It's this," Eaton said. "I feel good going into the innings. Coming out of the innings, I'm frustrated."

Blogworthy: The Phillies-Marlins series features two of the best shortstops in the National League, which begs the question: Who would you take?

Both are the leadoff man for their respective teams. Jimmy Rollins is batting .291 and Hanley Ramirez a NL-leading .341.

Ramirez also leads NL shortstops with a .394 on-base percentage entering Tuesday's game. Rollins is eighth at .341.

Rollins leads the NL with 14 triples and 93 runs scored. Ramirez tied Rollins at 20 homers this season when he sent Moyer's first pitch into the seats on Tuesday. Rollins' 66 RBIs were three better than Milwaukee's J.J. Hardy.

Throw in the Mets' Jose Reyes and the Braves' Edgar Renteria, and the debate becomes more murky.

Other injury notes: Catcher Rod Barajas (groin) began a hitting and running program Tuesday and could be ready for a rehab assignment next week, if necessary. ... Michael Bourn (left ankle) saw team doctors Monday and is still weeks away from a possible rehab assignment. ... Pitcher Freddy Garcia (shoulder) was expected to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday. If all goes well, he will throw batting practice on Friday.

Philling in: Pat Burrell was again batting in the third spot on Tuesday. ... The Phillies topped two million in attendance Tuesday for the fifth consecutive season.

Coming up: Kyle Lohse will start the 7:05 p.m. ET game for the Phillies, opposing Marlins lefty Dontrelle Willis.

Lohse's Phillies debut was cut short after an inning when he took a line drive to the forearm on Thursday. The right-hander, acquired via a trade with the Reds on July 30, hit two batters and walked in a run against the Cubs before suffering the injury.

Willis, meanwhile, hasn't picked up a winning decision since May 29 and has lost eight consecutive starts.

Stephen Fastenau is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.