Utley looks to be back in six weeks

PHILADELPHIA -- Chase Utley is trying to beat another timetable.

When the Philadelphia Phillies star had surgery last week to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb, the team said he will miss at least eight weeks.

But Utley is optimistic he won't need that long.

"I'd like to be playing baseball in six weeks-ish," Utley said Monday.

A speedy return would be nothing new for the five-time All-Star second baseman, who was expected to miss up to six months following offseason hip surgery after the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, but was in the lineup on Opening Day.

Utley was injured trying to stretch a single into a double in a game at Cincinnati last Monday. He was put on the disabled list Tuesday with a sprained ligament, and doctors later determined part of the ligament was detached from a bone. Surgery was performed last Thursday in New York.

"The numbers that were told to me were five weeks for the ligament to heal back up properly, another week or so to get movement back in your hand," Utley said. "Then from a baseball standpoint, two, three, four, five games to get back in shape. We'll have to see how it goes. But at this point, I'm pretty optimistic."

The two-time NL champion Phillies have been plagued by injuries this season. They were five games behind NL East-leading Atlanta, entering the opener of a three-game series against the Braves on Monday night.

"We have a ton of talent," Utley said. "We're not at full strength at this point. But we have enough talent and desire to overcome that. It's going to be a tough time, but I think we're up to the challenge."

Utley missed a month with a broken hand in 2007. He hit .321 with five homers and 21 RBIs in the final 32 games to help the Phillies win the first of three straight division titles.