After getting placed on waivers this month it appeared to be only but a matter of time before Chase Utley was traded by the Philadelphia Phillies. That came to fruition on Wednesday when the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired the veteran second baseman, reuniting him with Jimmy Rollins.
Utley dressed for what wound up being his final game with the Phillies, but did not play. He tipped his cap as he walked off the field at Citizens Bank Park as word had already spread he was bound for Los Angeles. The six-time All-Star provided some details on the process that led to him being traded, via William Boor of MLB.com:
I gave them a list of a handful of teams that I would consider playing for, and then it was [Phillies GM] Ruben [Amaro Jr.’s] job to find the best deal he could for the organization,” Utley said. “And ultimately it came down to the Dodgers, a team I grew up watching.”
Born in Pasadena and raised in Long Beach, Calif., Utley not only gew up watching the Dodgers, he was drafted by them in 1997. However, he opted to go to UCLA and was later taken in the first round by the Phillies in 2000.
In his 12 years in the big leagues, he has a .282 batting average. While he’s batting just .217/.284/.333 this season, his struggles are largely correlated to an ankle injury. However, Utley has shown signs of improvement since coming off the disabled list Aug. 7 and is optimistic he has fuel left in the tank:
This year obviously didn’t start out the way that I envisioned it for a number of different reasons,” Utley said. “But taking the time off, getting my body to cooperate a little bit better has definitely made a difference. Obviously, it’s a small sample size over the past two weeks or so. But I do feel good and I do feel confident moving forward.”
Since returning from the DL, Utley is batting .484/.485/.742 (15-for-33) with one home run, five doubles and five RBIs over eight games (seven starts). He currently owns an eight-game hitting streak, which includes five multi-hit games.
Additionally, Utley’s hard-contact rate is at 48.3 percent over that stretch, up significantly from his season average of 26.2 percent. The sample size may be a small one, but at the very least Utley figures to give the Dodgers added flexibility as they await Howie Kendrick’s return from a strained left hamstring. In 37 career games at Dodger Stadium, Utley is a .389/.613/1.003 batter.