Chase Utley re-signed with the Dodgers last week, but he did so with most outsiders expecting a lesser role. It appears he may have an expanded one instead.
Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports the Dodgers will consider using Utley at first base.
The Dodgers plan to give Chase Utley some run at first base this spring.
— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) February 17, 2017
The report comes on the heels of the announcement that Adrian Gonzalez is shut down for two weeks due to elbow inflammation. If Gonzalez were to miss time, Utley could be a safety net to prevent the Dodgers from starting Cody Bellinger’s service time clock too soon.
It’s a logical move for Utley. He has plenty of tread on his tires. Logan Forsythe will be the regular second baseman, which subtracts previous at-bats. Utley at first gives the Dodgers more pinch-hitting options, in addition to the obvious plus of shuffling guys around on their days off.
Utley reportedly chose L.A. over three over contenders. Part of that reasoning may have been an agreement to give him time at first. Utley has appeared at first twice in his Dodgers tenure. He did so sparingly in Philadelphia, though the most he ever fielded the position in a season was 13 games (11 starts) in 2004.
The Phillies flirted with the idea of playing Utley more at first in the past, but it never really materialized because of Ryan Howard’s presence. Utley has been the Dodgers starting second baseman for the last couple of seasons, having made only one start at first in that time.
Utley is in the twilight of his career. He and the organization can come together to find a way to extend it, and more time at first is a solid start.