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Chase-d Out At Second? Where Utley Fits When He Returns

Jun 6, 2012, 11:00 AM EDT

Looking at what position Chase Utley will play when he rejoins the Phillies, and how some of the dominoes fall around him.

Chase Utley is playing baseball, and that’s a good thing. Run production picked up for the Phillies in May, but offense has failed them during their current four-game losing streak, and truth be told, they’ve lacked a consistent punch all season. Nobody here thinks a declining Utley will be a cure-all, but he can certainly provide a spark.

The question is, “Where?” While he’s not as accomplished at the dish, Freddy Galvis has been beyond reliable at second base. There’s also an idea first base might be easier on Utley’s knees, or getting him off the dirt altogether by sticking him in left field. Moving Utley makes for interesting discussion, but how will it play out on the lineup card?

For the record, Ruben Amaro and Charlie Manuel broached the topic with reporters this week, and while they left the door ever-so-slightly ajar, it does not sound like a position change is a serious thought. Amaro described the transition as “awfully tough,” which seems fair — particularly to the outfield, where Utley has never really played. Manuel figures Utley would be playing through pain regardless of position.

I’m not convinced we’ll ever see Chase Utley tracking a fly ball to the warning track, and I’m not sure they need him to do that. A Juan Pierre/John Mayberry platoon should be fine for now.

Chase Utley getting some work at first base, on the other hand, might be a tad more plausible. Unlike outfield, he’s actually seen some Major League action at the bag, although that experience is limited to 24 games, compared to over 1,000 at second. However, it’s not a long term solution to begin with, because eventually Ryan Howard could return.

When you start to look at it seriously, it’s very difficult to envision Utley spending a lot of time anywhere besides the spot he’s accustomed. Who’s to say he is even comfortable someplace else?

His returning as the full-time second baseman shouldn’t cause Galvis to get completely lost in the shuffle either, if that even is a concern. Utley still needs time off, guessing possibly once a week, and Jimmy Rollins isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire, so Galvis should get games in at shortstop, too. A little rest probably wouldn’t hurt J-Roll anyway.

It can probably only be a good thing young Galvis won’t be counted on to be an everyday player at some point this season. Let’s say Utley was able to give the Phillies a few innings at first though until the Big Piece was available. Suddenly they’re getting more than just another piece of lumber with some pop back on the roster. It would give Charlie even more flexibility with his lineups, too.