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Troublesome knees plague Phillies’ Utley

- - Monday, March 19, 2012

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Chase Utley will likely start the season on the disabled list for the second straight year because of problems with both knees.

The five-time All-Star second baseman left camp to see a specialist, and it's uncertain when he'll be ready to play for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Utley was believed to have only an injured right knee, but general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. indicated Monday the left one may be causing more trouble.

Utley hasn't played in a game this spring because of his condition, which forced him to miss all of last spring and the first 46 games of the regular season.

Utley batted just .259 with 11 homers and 44 RBI in 103 games last year, and his batting average and slugging percentage have dropped each season since 2007. It's possible Utley, 33, may never be the same player who once was considered one of the best all-around stars in the majors.

Tigers' Cabrera struck near eye by batted ball

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Miguel Cabrera left Monday's game with a bloody face after a hard grounder from Philadelphia's Hunter Pence hit him near the right eye.

Cabrera was wearing sunglasses, and it's uncertain whether the wicked one-hopper hit the right lens or just under it. The Tigers' All-Star wiped blood off with his hand and held a towel to his face as he walked off the field.

Cabrera is making the transition back to third base because Detroit signed first baseman Prince Fielder.

Around the majors

DODGERS: Left-hander Clayton Kershaw, pitching on his 24th birthday, allowed his first run of the spring in 5⅓ innings against Cleveland. He has a 0.79 ERA in 11⅓ innings over three starts.

TWINS: Minnesota assigned infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka to Triple-A Rochester in hopes that he can find his game and build some confidence in the minor leagues. Nishioka was hitting .240 in nine games this spring after a difficult first season in the United States last year.

YANKEES: Ivan Nova's hold on a spot in New York's rotation grew more tenuous. Nova, who was 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA as a rookie in 2011, has allowed 11 runs in 12⅔ innings for a 7.82 spring ERA.

RED SOX: Left-hander Jon Lester will start Opening Day for Boston on April 5 in Detroit. Lester, 28, also started the Red Sox' first game of the 2011 season in Texas.