Utley tore a ligament in his thumb sliding into second base in a game at Cincinnati on June 28. He had surgery on July 1 and was expected to miss at least eight weeks. But Utley returned the lineup for the start of a three-game series against San Francisco on Tuesday night and went 0-for-5 in a 9-3 victory.
"I felt pretty good," said Utley, who received a standing ovation when he came up in the first. "Obviously, there's room for improvement."
To make room for Utley, infielder/outfielder Greg Dobbs was designated for assignment. Dobbs was hitting .191 with four homers and 14 RBIs in 76 games.
Utley was batting .277 with 11 homers and 37 RBIs before his return.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.