Notes: Utley eyes Monday return

Notes: Utley eyes Monday return

PHILADELPHIA -- Chase Utley carrying a bat to the cage Tuesday brought a smile to the players who saw it.

Especially Utley, as all is close to being right in the Phillies' universe.

"I took some swings and felt pretty good," Utley said, coming as close to a smile as he can. "I started with a fungo for a few swings and then went to my regular bat. I'm not swinging 100 perfect, but I swung pretty hard and I feel fine."

Utley, who broke his right hand on July 26 against the Nationals when he was hit by a pitch, said he took "50 or 60" swings and will see how he feels on Wednesday. If nothing hurts, he'll progress to harder swings. It doesn't hurt when he throws.

"Your hand is pretty important in the swinging process," he said. "As long as it doesn't hurt, I can do whatever I want."

Utley is still focused on a return for the Mets series, which begins Monday at Citizens Bank Park. That suggests a rehab assignment could be as early as this weekend.

He'll wear a protective pad over his batting glove when he swings, but nothing in the field. Utley also said he intends to leave the pin that was surgically inserted into his fourth metacarpal in place.

"If I get hit there again, the test will be to see how strong the pin is," he said.

That's a worry for another day. Next is returning.

"It feels like forever," said Utley, who's been out since July 27. "I'm going a little stir crazy, but the team has played well, so there are no complaints. I'd imagine I'll feel a little fresher taking off a month."

Madson still unsure: Reliever Ryan Madson can look at a baseball, but he gets queasy when he thinks about picking it up.

"It makes me sick to think about throwing it," Madson said. "I don't know where the finish line is. I know I'm much better from where I started, but I don't know how much further I have to go."

Madson has worked for the Phillies since making a July 29 pitch against the Pirates, when he suffered the same right shoulder strain that sidelined teammate Brett Myers for two months. Madson had spent last week in Clearwater, Fla., and said the strength still isn't there in his shoulder for him to begin the next phase of his rehab.

"The exercises I'm doing, it needs to be pain-free before I start throwing," he said. "Maybe next week."

Madson paused. Myers told him to prepare for a long road back, but Madson hopes to return at some point in September, possibly for the final week to 10 days of the regular season, according to team doctor Michael Ciccotti.

"I don't know," Madson said. "It's already been three weeks, and it will be another week before I can start throwing."

It's nothing: Considering the injuries that have decimated the Phillies, the sight of Jimmy Rollins favoring a left knee wrapped in ice was jarring.

Rollins explained that it was chronic tendinitis that affects him each year at this time.

Yoel's turn: Before Yoel Hernandez could find his locker in the Phillies' home clubhouse, he found his way to the disabled list. In a season that featured myriad injuries, Hernandez's shouldn't come as a surprise.

Hernandez, who was recalled to replace Michael Zagurski, whose strained right hamstring showed a tear and will render him unable to pitch again this season. Hernandez worked a 23-pitch inning against the Pirates on Sunday and said he felt something after his last pitch.

"I felt fine warming up after the rain delay, then I felt something burning on my last pitch," he said, pointing to his right side. "Something is going on with this team, some kind of voodoo. You can't explain it."

Hernandez is the 16th Phillie to go on the DL this season, and manager Charlie Manuel was jokingly asked if the team had taken out an insurance policy on lefty reliever Fabio Castro, who replaced Hernandez.

"With the price of insurance nowadays, I don't think we can mess with that," Manuel said. "It's been a very freak season."

Quotable: [Mike Lieberthal] tailgates. I follow at a safe distance." -- Randy Wolf, on the difference between the extent that he and Lieberthal follow their old teammates in Philadelphia. Wolf and Lieberthal returned to Philadelphia for the first time since signing with their hometown Dodgers in the offseason

Philling in: Shane Victorino (strained right calf) and Rod Barajas played in a rehab game for Double-A Reading, and Victorino could return to the Phillies as soon as Wednesday. ... Top pitching prospect Carlos Carrasco pitched a six-inning no-hitter Tuesday for Double-A Reading. ... Castro had been starting with Triple-A Ottawa recently, but will be used as a long reliever with the Phillies. "He can pitch at least two or three innings," Manuel said. ... Greg Dobbs, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard got into R&B and pop songwriter Bunny Sigler's unique rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner," swaying to the vocals along the first-base line before Tuesday's game.

Coming up: An injury to scheduled starter Cole Hamels bumped J.D. Durbin up a day to face the Dodgers on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Hamels was diagnosed on Tuesday with a mild left elbow strain and will miss the start.

Durbin is coming off an outing against Pittsburgh in which he lasted six innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits in an 11-8 win. Durbin is 4-1 with a 4.11 ERA in six starts for Philadelphia.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.