Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 6/27/12

And with this one tweet, what we've known for a few days is official: Chase Utley will return to the Phillies lineup tonight against the Pirates.To make room for Utley on the Phillies roster, utilityman Michael Martinez has been demoted to AAA Lehigh Valley. Utley hasn't played at all this season after offseason knee surgery, and there was a cloud of mystery surrounding the surgery after the Phillies (and Utley himself) gave rather cryptic updates about his progress following the surgery throughout the spring.

The Phillies were using rookie Freddy Galvis at second base in lieu of Utley for the majority of this season, but he hasn't played since June 6th after fracturing a bone in his back and being placed on the DL. Furthermore, Galvis was then nailed with a 50-game PED suspension for use of an illegal substance. In the three weeks since Galvis's injury, the Phillies have been using primarily using Martinez at second. With his demotion, the team must feel that Utley will be ready to roll on a full-time basis at the position. Mike Fontenot remains on the roster as an insurance policy for Utley's health.

It's pretty much go-time for the Phillies right now, who are expecting Ryan Howard to begin a rehab assignment in the coming weeks in his attempt to return from a torn Achilles during the postseason last fall. The Phillies have been smashed with injuries this season, and are in fourth place in the NL East, eight games behind the division-leading Nationals. With Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino expected to hit free agency this winter, the team needs to determine whether ot not the additions of Utley and Howard can help them contend over the season's final three months. If the final week of July rolls around, and the Phillies are still floundering at the bottom of the division, it might help the team's long-term future to explore trading one or both of their stars before potentially letting them walk away for just draft pick compensation.

Photo courtesy of Daylife.com

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This article first appeared on The Outside Corner and was syndicated with permission.

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