Mackanin: Hot-hitting Utley 'rejuvenated'
MILWAUKEE -- Chase Utley is making it awfully hard for contending teams to not be interested in his services for the remainder of the season.
As the ball remains in his court as to whether he accepts a trade out of Philadelphia, Utley continued his torrid stretch at the plate by going 2-for-4 with a double, home run and an RBI in a 4-2 Phillies loss to the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on Saturday night.
"He looks good," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "He's swinging the bat as well as I've seen him. He's playing like he's rejuvenated. It is nice to see."
Utley is not speaking with the media in order to avoid talking about trade possibilities.
The veteran second baseman led off the third inning Saturday with a solo home run to right field off Brewers right-hander Jimmy Nelson. It was Utley's first home run since June 2, a span of 81 at-bats.
In his next at-bat, Utley roped a 1-1 offering from Nelson into the right-field corner to start the fifth inning with a double.
Since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 7 after missing 37 games due to right ankle inflammation, Utley is hitting .500 (13-for-26) with five doubles, a home run and five RBIs.
"To be honest with you, I think part of the reason that 'Ut' is energized is because of the young guys," Mackanin said. "When he came into this thing, he saw these young guys playing their [butts] off. I think it rubbed off on him more than the other way."
As a player with 10-and-5 no-trade rights (10 years in the Majors and five straight with the same club), Utley has the right to reject a trade to any team.
The Angels, Cubs, Giants, Astros, Dodgers and Yankees all reportedly have shown interest in adding the 36-year-old to the mix as they pursue a berth in the postseason.
To Mackanin, there's value in having a veteran presence like Utley around as the Phillies try to build momentum toward the future over the final 45 games of the season. But the interim manager also faces the dilemma of trying to involve all his young players while finding playing time for Utley, who almost certainly won't be in Philadelphia next season.
"Yes and no," Mackanin said when asked if there's value to having Utley around for the rest of this season. "I mean, yeah, we like 'Ut'. It is an issue for me, because I have to try to play everybody, and the guys that deserve to play, like Hernandez and so forth, I want them to play. But I want Utley to play, too. It is not an easy task for me, but we'll do what we can."
However, as a former scout, Mackanin knows how he would recommend Utley.
"I'd say I have high interest in him for whatever my purposes may be," Mackanin said. "Since he started playing [again], he doesn't look like he's 36 years old. He looks pretty frisky."