PHILADELPHIA -- It is no coincidence that Chase Utley announced his plans to retire shortly before the Dodgers played the Phillies in a three-game series this week at Citizens Bank Park.He wanted the opportunity to say goodbye."I thought it was important to let the Philadelphia Phillies fans know that this
PHILADELPHIA -- It is no coincidence that Chase Utley announced his plans to retire shortly before the Dodgers played the Phillies in a three-game series this week at Citizens Bank Park.
He wanted the opportunity to say goodbye.
"I thought it was important to let the Philadelphia Phillies fans know that this is going to be the last time that I'm going to have the chance to play in this ballpark," Utley said Monday afternoon. "Whether I was going to continue to play another few years or not, this city was an experience that I'll never forget. Obviously, we had some great success here and the way this city supported this team over those years is pretty remarkable. I've said this a number of times over the years, but fans in this city really elevated our game and made us focus a little bit more. It added a little bit of intensity and adrenaline. In my opinion, those are things that can make a team better."
Utley will retire as the greatest second baseman in Phillies history and one of the most popular athletes in Philadelphia history. He made his impact with the Dodgers, too. They value his role as a leader in the clubhouse.
Utley said he plans to be a full-time father upon his retirement, but his tremendous baseball acumen always has had teammates, coaches, managers and front-office officials believing he could be an excellent manager.
Could he actually see himself doing that?
"It depends," Utley said. "It's something that I haven't looked that far ahead to be honest with you. I've been playing this game for a long time and it takes away from the family time. Now that I have two boys who are old enough that I'm away every other week for seven or 10 days, that's become a little bit more difficult. I want to stay in the game, but to what capacity? I'm not sure. At the end of the year, I'd like to make my own schedule to be honest with you. But I feel like I can give back in a number of different ways. Yeah, I want to be involved. Managing, coaching, I'm not quite sure that's the path, but you never know."
Former Phillies teammates like Brad Lidge, Matt Stairs and Chad Durbin have been guest instructors in Spring Training in Clearwater, Fla. That position only requires a few days or maybe even a week of commitment every spring.
What about that?
"I'm not quite sure what the future has after this season ends, but I do still want to stay involved," Utley said. "Obviously the Phillies are a huge and special part of my life, so I think it is a possibility."
Utley will receive at least one standing ovation this week, just like he has in the past when he has returned to play the Phillies. He had a lot of great seasons here. He created a lot of incredible memories. A lot of parents named their sons after him. Back then, Utley probably would have preferred to eat nails rather than hold a nearly 16-minute press conference, which he did Monday. But people change.
"I think you can put things in perspective a little bit more," he said, asked about how he has changed over the years. "I'm still in the moment. There's still plenty of intensity, but it's easier to see the big picture nowadays. I wish I had that a little bit more when I was younger. Every day felt like the last day, but you can definitely put things into perspective. And the experiences that I've had over the years, I feel like I can give back to my teammates and try to help them if need be."
Utley could help the Phillies one more time before he retires. The Dodgers just acquired Manny Machado, whom the Phillies will pursue in the offseason. Utley said he would give Philly a glowing review to any free agent who wanted to know about playing in Philadelphia.
"If you want to play in front of great fans that want to win, in a beautiful ballpark, as long as you can deal with the humidity," he said.
The humidity in Philly should be fine by October. Utley and the Dodgers actually could be back in Philly in a few months, if both teams make the postseason.
"It would be cool," Utley said about a potential Phillies-Dodgers postseason series. "Anytime you're playing in October, it's cool."
But October baseball in Philly?
"Yeah," he said, "it would be a trip."
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.