By trading for Chase Utley the Los Angeles Dodgers not only added a veteran presence to their clubhouse and someone with postseason experience and success, they gained additional versatility.
With Howie Kendrick on the disabled list due to a strained left hamstring, Kiké Hernandez has received the bulk of the starts at second base. For as well as Hernandez has played, it’s prevented the Dodgers from continuing to use him in the utility role that Hernandez has largely filled since being called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Utley’s presence allows Dodgers manager Don Mattingly to insert the veteran at second base and use Hernandez at shortstop or any of the three outfield positions. However, given that Kendrick is expected to return in early September, a logjam of sorts is bound to form at second.
Although Utley will for now play his natural position, Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi said time at third base could very well be in the Long Beach, Calif., native’s future. Prior to making his Dodgers debut, Utley expressed a willingness to play the hot corner, according to J.P. Hoornstra of the LA Daily News:
Chase Utley says that he's "open for anything" re: third base. "I'll take some ground balls over there and see what happens."
— J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) August 21, 2015
As for Kendrick, Mattingly said he will resume his post as starting second baseman once activated from the disabled list, via Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times:
Kendrick will be starter at 2B when he returns from DL, Mattingly said.
— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) August 21, 2015
The 36-year-old Utley hasn’t logged any time in the Majors at third base over his 13-year career; he does have 31 games (24 starts) under his belt at first base. As for third, the UCLA product last played the position at the Triple-A level in 2002.
Utley has appeared in each of the first two games since joining the Dodgers — first as designated hitter, then as the starting second baseman on Saturday. Hernandez started in place of Joc Pederson in center field with left-hander Scott Kazmir on the mound.