By Barbara Harrison
Phillies fans may miss legendary second baseman Chase Utley, who was traded to the Dodgers a couple of months ago.
And guess what L. A. has him doing?
Following his first-ever game as a major league third baseman, Utley was asked about the prospect of playing the position in the postseason.
“I think you’re looking too far ahead,” Utley said. “We have to get there first.”
But as far as first steps went, Utley acknowledged he was encouraged by his defensive performance Monday in the Dodgers’ 8-4 defeat to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“I’ll continue to take ground balls there,” Utley said. “If they want me to play there, I’ll be fine.”
With Howie Kendrick returning from the disabled list to reclaim his role as the team’s primary second baseman, Utley moved to third to replace the sidelined Justin Turner.
“It was OK after the first ground ball,” Utley said. “As the game went on, it got better and better.”
Utley later received the first baseball he fielded as a third baseman, the way players do when they reach career milestones. The ball was inscribed with details of the play, which was a second-inning grounder by Wellington Castillo.
“It was pretty funny,” Utley said.
Utley credited bench coach Tim Wallach for helping him get used to the new position.
Utley said he started feeling comfortable at third base after three or four training sessions with Wallach.
“Obviously, game speed is a little bit different,” Utley said. “You have your time clock in your head as a second baseman. At third base, obviously the ball is hit a little bit harder. It gets to you sooner so you have a little bit more time, but it’s a longer throw, so you kind of have to make adjustments on the fly. I feel like I made those, but I still have plenty of room for improvement.”