Dr. HQ: Utley's power stroke in jeopardy

Updated: July 30, 2007, 2:20 PM ET
By Rick Wilton | Baseball HQ
Chase Utley, 2B, PHI -- Utley suffered a fractured right hand when he was hit by a pitch during Thursday's game. It didn't look serious at the time because he was able to take two more at-bats before the end of the game. After the game, X-rays revealed a fractured fourth metacarpal bone, which is toward the outside of the hand below the ring finger.

The Phillies were saying after the game that on a scale of 1-10, this is probably a two or three fracture. They are hoping for a return in about three weeks. Utley underwent surgery Friday morning to insert a pin to support the bone and help facilitate the healing process. The arthroscopic procedure took only 20 minutes. The new estimate from the hand specialist is that he'll miss about four weeks.

Even if he does beat the four weeks, Utley has another hurdle to overcome. Players coming off wrist and hand injuries rarely regain their normal power levels for up to a year after the injury, with the standard guideline being 12 months. Even if he's able to regain his power stroke in less than a year, he sure as heck isn't going to find it in September. All we have to do is look at Derrek Lee as an example to see how a wrist injury, albeit a much more serious one than Utley's condition, causes a player to lose some power for an extended period of time.