Chase Utley uttered some promising words Friday.

“I feel pretty damn good right now,” he said.

Of course, Utley made a similar statement last year and ended up on the sidelines until late June.

So why is this year different?

Well, there’s no guarantee it will be different, but Utley is confident it can be. He believes he has his chronic knee problem under control. He believes he has come up with a maintenance program that will allow him to get on the field in spring training and stay on the field during the regular season.

“It was a very productive offseason,” he said. “I had no flareups. In the weight room, I made progressions I haven’t done in three or four years. I was able to get stronger. I wanted to get my legs stronger without irritating my knees and I did that.

“I think all the hard work I did this offseason will pay off.”

Utley missed all of spring training in 2011 and did not play until late May that year. He thought he had the condition under control in the offseason that followed only to have a flareup last spring training. He missed all of the spring of 2012 and didn’t play in the majors until late June.

To avoid similar start-up problems, Utley did baseball activities throughout this offseason. He did strength training in the mornings then worked out with the University of San Francisco baseball team in the afternoons.

“Last year’s program didn’t work for me,” Utley said. “It was disappointing. It was difficult to handle. But I wasn’t going to let it get me down. I knew I had lot of baseball left in me. I wasn’t willing to let this stop me. I’m just happy we put together a good program and now things are looking good.

“This offseason, I trained to play baseball, not just take pressure off my knees. It’s worked. I have strength in my legs, and I can feel it taking ground balls and swinging the bat. There’s something there where the last couple of years there hasn’t been.”