Chase Utley actually got a pinch-hit last night.
By Todd Zolecki, MLB.com
Mike Schmidt wanted no part of the conversation, because he sees no similarities between May 1989 and May 2015.
But this is the way sports works, fairly or not.
Chase Utley sat on the bench Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park with a .099 batting average — the lowest batting average among qualified hitters through his team’s first 30 games since 1914, according to Baseball Reference — and Phillies fans have been asking if his struggles are similar to Schmidt’s before he abruptly retired in 1989.
“I don’t think it’s time to start thinking about Chase Utley being at the end or anything like that,” Schmidt said just inside the Phillies’ dugout. “I put money on him being Player of the Month next [month]. It’ll turnaround that fast. A couple of scratch hits, a couple of balls find holes, the whole aura of the game can turnaround for you like that. You have to have that feeling.
“I’ve seen it happen. A broken-bat hit, I don’t know, you do something and it just lets the air out of the balloon, you relieve the pressure and you go, ‘How the heck did I ever do what I did?’ You find yourself in a 15-for-30 streak or something like that with a couple game-winning home runs. All that stuff that happened in the early part of the year is over with.”
Schmidt hit .203 with seven doubles, six home runs, 28 RBIs and a .668 OPS in 42 games when he retired at age 39. He hit .088 with seven RBIs and a .316 OPS in his final 70 plate appearances.
Utley entered the night hitting .099 with three home runs, 14 RBIs and a .373 OPS in 103 plate appearances.
Schmidt said he still sees the same player, the same bat speed from Utley.
“I don’t see anything [different],” Schmidt said. “I don’t see any difference in Ryan Howard, either. I really don’t see it.
“Chase is what, 36? I would say I would have never dreamed Chase could have the results he’s had because of his hitting ability. I always figured Chase was, worst case, always going to get hits. I admire the way he seems to have handled it. Every day seems to be a new day to him. He’s trying to figure out a way to help the team win a ball game every time. Ryne [Sandberg] keeps putting him in the two- and three-hole. A lot of respect, which he deserves. I had my share of slumps when I was a player. Not many guys could say they’ve gone through 9-for-100 or whatever it is. That’s pretty tough. He’s a mentally tough guy.”
Schmidt said Saturday is the first time anybody had mentioned any possible comparison between the two Phillies legends.
“No, none,” Schmidt said. “I don’t think there are any parallels, actually. I don’t see any reason to even think in those terms. Count me out of that conversation.”