Utley's hand healing but he won't return until late August at earliest

Updated: August 8, 2007, 11:03 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

It might be September before the Phillies have All-Star second baseman Chase Utley in their lineup again.

Chase Utley

Utley

Utley was hoping he would have been cleared to return Tuesday from his broken right hand when he saw hand specialist Dr. Randall Culp.

"Obviously, I was hoping he would tell me I could play in a game [Tuesday], but realistically, that's not an option," Utley told reporters. "It's a broken bone, and we have to let it heal. If I go out there and try to play on a broken bone, I'm just going to re-aggravate it. So, I'm just going to let it heal."

Utley had a pin inserted into his hand to stabilize a broken right ring finger during surgery and was placed on the 15-day disabled list after being struck by a pitch from Washington's John Lannan on July 26.

Utley is batting .336 with 41 doubles, 17 home runs and 82 RBIs this season.

The Phillies acted quickly in finding Utley's interim replacement, acquiring Tadahito Iguchi from the Chicago White Sox for minor league pitcher Michael Dubee.

Iguchi has done well for the Phillies, hitting .361 and helping Philadelphia go 7-4 without Utley. Philadelphia is just two games behind the Padres for the NL wild-card lead and trails the Mets by four games in the NL East race.

Utley had the stitches from his surgery removed Tuesday and was told he can resume range-of-motion exercises.

Utley will see Culp again on Aug. 20. If he's cleared to grip a bat, he'll probably return to the Phillies lineup a week from that visit. "That's the goal," Utley told reporters.

"Dr. Culp said it looks great," Utley told reporters. "It's healing like he thought it should, so from that aspect everything is going well. He doesn't feel I should start gripping anything yet, especially a bat. At this point, it's better to be safe than sorry."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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