Utley at Third? Could Happen Soon

It sounds like Chase Utley will play third base before the end of the season if two things happen:

  1. Utley feels comfortable enough to play there.
  2. The Phillies fall from contention in the National League Wild Card race. That could happen quickly. The Phillies entered Monday’s series opener against the Mets at Citi Field four games out of the second National League Wild Card with just 15 games to play.

“I think I’ve been out there three or four times,” Utley said, referring to his pregame workouts at third base. “Every time I get a little more comfortable. But I think there’s still a lot of work to be done. So far it’s going well. I feel like I’ve progressed a little bit, but there’s still more room for improvement.”

Utley is taking this potential move seriously. He spoke with Ruben Amaro Jr. and Charlie Manuel in Manuel’s office before batting practice. He later spoke with Mets third baseman David Wright behind the batting cage with Wright even crouching into a defensive position as he offered advice.

“I think he’s doing fine,” Amaro said of Utley.

Fine enough to play third base next season?

“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Amaro said.

Asked if the Phillies can learn enough about Utley at third base if he plays just a couple games there before the end of the season, Amaro said, “Realistically, I don’t think so. But if he really dedicates himself to doing it, I think the probability of him being able to do it is much higher than it is with other people. I think more than anything else this is finding out if in fact he feels comfortable enough doing it. Having him play third base just gives us another option. And what’s wrong with giving us another option?”

Both Amaro and Manuel agree the Phillies are better defensively in 2013 with Freddy Galvis at second base and Utley at third base, despite the uncertainty of Utley’s ability to play there. Certainly if they feel Utley can play third base it would give the Phillies one less thing to worry about in the offseason, which would be a plus because Amaro said the market for third basemen via trade or free agency is “not very good.”

But here’s the big question: If Utley only plays a couple games at third base and Amaro does not think he can truly evaluate Utley’s ability to play there based on just a couple games, how do the Phillies go into the offseason knowing Utley is their 2013 third baseman?

“I don’t necessarily,” Amaro said. “It becomes riskier. Then you take a risk sometimes. Sometimes it’s OK to take a risk.”

9 Comments

Pingback: Utley Ready to Play Third; Needs Two Things to Happen « TTB

Unless he plays third extensively for the rest of this season I don’t see how they could possibly go into 2013 spring training depending on Utley. There are a lot of issues surrounding him and the season could blow up before it starts if he doesn’t work out. He also screwed them last offseason with his secrecy about his condition and I just don’t trust the guy to be forthcoming anymore.

this seems to be a joke. While easier on his kness, we won’t know before ST. However, given last year’s revelation, worse case is Galvin can play 3rd and Utley stay at 2B

Might save his knees, but he doesn’t have the arm to play third. I believe the only way to save his career is a move to firstbase which isn’t going to happen here. I’d rather see Galvis at third to utilize his arm and range….ideally Jimmy would move to third and let Galvis takeover at short, but we all know that would never happen. My guess is Galvis rots on the bench or AAA next year and we gobble up yet another cheap, damaged thirdbasemen with back issues (see Bell, Feliz, Polanco…)

Polanco played third in his first stint with the Phillies. He moved to second with Detroit and won gold gloves. He returns to Philadelphia to play third and wins a GG. But when he returns to Philadelphia he is in the twilight of his career. The extra distance required to peg the ball from third to first undoubtedly took its toll on Polanco given the nature of the injuries which have marred his performance these last years of his career. Why should we expect a different result with Utley? The Phillies should save his knees only for him to experience sports hernias and back problems ala Polanco?

I wonder why they don’t think of trying him in the outfield. I would think that would be less stressful on his knees and he wouldn’t need the same kind of arm strength.

Karen…..The outfield has come up several times. Chase, himself, nixed the idea.

middle infield to outfield is a very hard transition to make. It could be done, but honestly if you are looking at that move I would just trade him to another club. I would prefer to get a “real” outfielder at a lower cost than move him to an outfield spot.

Lots of guys went from the infield to outfield during their careers:
Robin Yount went from SS to OF
Pete Rose went from 2B to OF to 3B to 1B
B.J. Surhoff went from C to 3B to OF
Alfonso Soriano went from 2B to OF
Gary Sheffield went from SS to 3B to OF
Harmon Killebrew went from 3B to OF
Craig Biggio went from C to 2B to OF
Tony Phillips went from SS to 2B to OF
Chipper Jones went from 3B to OF
Hubie Brooks went from 3B to SS to OF

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