It doesn’t seem to matter how old Chase Utley gets, he never seems to lose his ability to pull off brilliant plays. The Los Angeles Dodgers back-up second (and sometimes first) baseman spent his prime with the Philadelphia Phillies, but at 38 he can still make plays like guys ten years younger.
Sunday’s game between the Dodgers and the Miami Marlins featured Chase Utley at his leather-flashing best. It was the top of the third inning, and Dodgers pitcher Brandon McCarthy was facing off against the Marlins’ J.T. Riddle. Riddle hit the 1-0 pitch sharply, the ball headed toward a hole in the infield.
After Riddle hit the ball, it pretty much looked like a routine grounder that was going to squirt into the shallow part of the outfield. It skipped over the infield dirt on the right side of the infield and was about to head for the outfield grass when out of nowhere, a glove appeared. The glove was attached to Chase Utley’s left hand, and the rest of Utley was laid out horizontally in the air. He made a diving leap at the ball and snagged it on a backhand, falling to the ground with the ball safely in his glove.
But Utley wasn’t done. He scrambled to his knees, turned around, and threw the ball to Adrian Gonzalez at first to get the second out of the inning. The play was fast, it was graceful, it was unexpected, but not surprising. In short, it was Chase Utley all over.
So Utley’s glove work is obviously still fantastic, and his bat is starting to catch up. His overall triple slash of .205/.302/.289 doesn’t look like much, but it’s vastly improved from his .122/.217/.146 line in April. Utley’s hit .286/.280/.429 in May which raised his average 83 points in less than a month.
With Utley being 38 and on a one-year contract with the Dodgers, it seems like there are fewer games in his future than ever before. But if retirement is inching closer and closer, Utley is obviously making every single game he has left count.
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