Chase Utley the most hated man in baseball since his takeout slide of Ruben Tejada in game 2 of the 2015 NLDS against the Mets has been a spark at the top of the lineup for the Dodgers. I know it’s only been three games, but the cagey veteran has made his impact felt.
Utley was an iconic presence in Philadelphia from 2003-2015. He won a World Series, two pennants, six all-star selections, and four silver slugger awards. His infamous takeout slide in game 2 of the National League playoffs last fall cast a pall on his character. Unfortunately nobody ever gave him a chance. Even before the incident when the Dodgers acquired him from waiver wire in August. Of course Utley was not trying to injure Tejada. He was merely trying to break up a double play which is something that has been part of the fabric of the game for over a century. Until geriatric dullard Joe Torre made it illegal and now the new rule change is negatively affecting the outcomes of games. That is a story for a different day though.
Utley was guilty of nothing more than just getting old, and not realizing it. His slide was a half a second too late. The 37-year old infielder was originally suspended for the incident, but had his suspension later appealed and then repealed. Good thing they did too. What if Utley had been suspended for the entire series against the Padres?
That would have been a bad thing for the Dodgers. The club signed Utley to a one-year seven million dollar contract in the offseason that was met with all sorts of decry. The Dodgers knew what they were doing and what they were getting when they retained him.
Utley has gotten off to a good start this season. He’s batted lead-off in all four games and has been a spark at the top of the lineup. Utley is 8 for 23 (.348) with a double, triple, and two runs scored through the first five games. Every at-bat has looked good. Every plate approach has looked professional. Even in the game he went 0 for 4; he still hit the ball hard every time up.
The 37-year old veteran is still a good player, and he can still hit. He’s even made a couple of good plays at second base. He can still run the bases as well. There may be a bit of fight left in the old dog. I know he may not hit his weight come the dog days of August, but it’s looking like Chase Utley is a good guy to have around. Wouldn’t it be awesome and just delicious to see Utley help the Dodgers win a World Series?
Keep an eye on Chase Utley this season. He’s sure to help the Dodgers in many ways throughout the year.