Utley making the most of his chance in L.A.
LOS ANGELES -- For Chase Utley, 2015 has been a year of change.
The most obvious change is, of course, that Utley is now wearing Dodger blue instead of Phillies red. He provided most of the offense for Los Angeles on Wednesday as the Dodgers snapped a four-game losing skid with a 4-1 win over the D-backs.
Utley went 2-for-4 with a home run and a double to help lower the Dodgers' magic number to 5.
Utley has been moved around the lineup since joining the Dodgers. Wednesday was his eighth game this season as the leadoff hitter, and Utley rocked his first career leadoff home run to give the Dodgers an early 1-0 lead. Later in the game, he smoked a double off the wall to score another former Phillies infielder, Jimmy Rollins, giving the Dodgers a 2-1 lead.
"I'd like to be in the lineup anywhere," Utley said. "Just try to have good at-bats wherever you are in the lineup."
A 13-year veteran, the Dodgers have utilized Utley all over the infield. Utley made his first career start at third base on Monday, and he's been used at first base as well. Utley provides valuable versatility for constructing a lineup, and despite a career-low .216 batting average, his veteran presence and experience helps the Dodgers every day.
"Chase, to me, has made a big difference for us since he came," Mattingly said. "Sometimes you can't measure everything."
For a 36-year-old looking to stay on top of the game he once dominated, Utley's current role with the Dodgers is one that suits the veteran perfectly, Mattingly said.
"Looking at Chase at this point in his career, the things he can do, and if he wants to continue to play and be that role, there's a lot of at-bats," Mattingly said. "He gets rest. He's not a seven-day-a-week player, but he's a four-day-per-week guy, and that's extremely valuable."
The most important change for Utley, however, is being in a playoff race, and the Dodgers are on the cusp of clinching a playoff berth. Wednesday's win went a long way to quell some of the uncertainty among the Dodgers faithful after Los Angeles had dropped four in a row.
"I think being in a playoff race is a change of pace over the past few years. I almost forgot what it was like to be in this kind of atmosphere. It's refreshing, it's fun," Utley said. "It's going to be exciting."