PHOENIX -- Chase Utley jokingly apologized to the media on Saturday for all the effusive comments from Dodgers teammates and club officials about his pending re-signing, which was made official on Saturday.Manager Dave Roberts called Utley his favorite player ever. Clayton Kershaw said he would tell his son to play
PHOENIX -- Chase Utley jokingly apologized to the media on Saturday for all the effusive comments from Dodgers teammates and club officials about his pending re-signing, which was made official on Saturday.
Manager Dave Roberts called Utley his favorite player ever. Clayton Kershaw said he would tell his son to play the game like Utley. Lockermate Corey Seager considers Utley his mentor. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said he's never seen a player that is trying at all times to help win a game like Utley.
"It goes to show the things you do do not go unnoticed," said Utley, who took less money and a lesser role to return.
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Roberts said he views Utley as an everyday player, even though the trade for second baseman John Forsythe filled the position where Utley started last year and appeared to close the door on Utley's return.
"I kind of thought the same thing," Utley said. "I had a few different opportunities to go to different places, but we kept in constant contact and were able to work something out."
Utley will start at second base against certain right-handed pitchers as well take over when Forsythe moves to third base on days Justin Turner doesn't start. He will probably pinch-hit late in games, considering his .768 OPS against right-handed pitching. Utley also said he has a first baseman's mitt and will be ready if asked to play there.
But he expects to play. Although he's now 38, Utley didn't sign just to be a coach, clubhouse chemist or a dugout cheerleader.
"I still feel I can contribute in a number of ways, on the field and also in the clubhouse," he said. "I might not have all the right answers, but I have some experience on my side."
A Californian who lives in the Bay Area, Utley said the Dodgers were the best fit because of the culture and commitment to winning.
"Ultimately, the goal for many of us is to win a championship and I feel we have the pieces in place to do that here," he said. "As a player, you take a lot of pride in how you play and what you accomplish. It's no secret I'm not getting any younger. I understand if I want to be part of a winning organization, I might have to take this kind of role. I'm up for it, up for the challenge and I'm excited about it.
"I'm very happy I landed back here. I try not to look too far ahead. I had a great time last year attempting to fit in with this great group of guys and we had a fairly successful season."
To make room for Utley on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers gave outfielder Darin Ruf his release. Ruf has already signed to play with Samsung in the Korean Baseball Organization.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.