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Phils honor Utley in special retirement ceremony

Morgan activated from 10-day IL; Hunter to make rehab appearance Sunday
@ToddZolecki
June 21, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- Chase Utley spent 13 years in Philadelphia, which is enough time to make enough of an impact to have more than a few boys in the Delaware Valley named after him. Interestingly, Utley’s own boys have little or no recollection of his storied time in town. They got

PHILADELPHIA -- Chase Utley spent 13 years in Philadelphia, which is enough time to make enough of an impact to have more than a few boys in the Delaware Valley named after him. Interestingly, Utley’s own boys have little or no recollection of his storied time in town.

They got a taste Friday night at Citizens Bank Park, where the Phillies honored the greatest second baseman in franchise history with a retirement ceremony before their series opener against the Marlins. Utley’s family, including his wife Jen, his boys Ben, 7, and Max, 4, and his parents attended the ceremony, which included highlights of his career on PhanaVision, and a few words from Utley before throwing out the first pitch to actor Rob McElhenney, whose character Mac wrote a memorable love letter to Utley in an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Utley mentioned the late David Montgomery, who was team president during his run with the Phillies, and the impact he had on his life. He thanked former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, calling him the cream of the crop. He thanked the fans. He capped the evening by running out to second base in his Phillies jersey to Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.”

“I've tried to talk to them about it a little bit,” Utley said about his boys and his Phillies’ career. “Ben understands it a little bit. Max, right over his head. Hopefully they pay attention tonight. He's got about a 15-20 minute window. I'm excited for them to see it. Will it set in? I'm not quite sure.”

Utley will be back in August for the 2009 National League championship team reunion. There will be other reasons to return to Philadelphia in the future, but they will be infrequent. Utley is from Southern California and he plans to raise his family there. So, for the moment, that is where he plans to spend his time.

These days, Utley is coaching his boys in baseball, although he mentioned that they prefer to listen to the other coaches than their famous baseball-playing dad. He is golfing a lot. He just started a part-time gig as a pregame and postgame TV analyst for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

But what about 10 years from now? Twenty?

“One day at a time,” Utley said. “I would anticipate a little more golf, but to picture my kids in college from where they’re at right now, they’re just kids and that’s so far along. I love baseball. Baseball will always be a part of my life. I’m just not willing to put into that amount of time that I used to to be a part of it. At some point, that may change. It may not. I’m not really sure. But I will always pay attention to what’s going on.”

Could it mean future employment with the Phillies? Utley is the type of former player a front office would love to have on its payroll. It is why the Dodgers enjoy having Utley around.

“It’s totally possible, but where we are and where I’m at in my life, growing up in Southern California and my family is in Southern California, it just makes the most sense,” Utley said. “I am working for the Dodgers and they’ve been great to me. Philadelphia is where it all started for me. Philadelphia gave me an opportunity to play at this level and we had so much success here. Those memories and those times will never go away.”

What does he miss the most?

“I miss playing in this stadium,” Utley said. “One, it’s a beautiful stadium. Two, it’s a great place to hit from a hitter’s perspective. I miss the fans. How energetic and intense and loud they were. I miss winning with a Phillies jersey on.”

Velasquez, De Los Santos start this weekend

The Phillies’ rotation depth has been pushed to its limits, pitching without a No. 5 starter and needing a sixth starter following rainouts Monday and Tuesday and a split-doubleheader Wednesday in Washington. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler announced that Vince Velasquez will start Saturday and Triple-A right-hander Enyel De Los Santos will start Sunday.

Velasquez had been bumped to the bullpen, but Kapler said he has a chance to reclaim his job in the rotation.

“It’s an opportunity to take control of that fifth spot in the rotation for the time being,” Kapler said. “Very similar to the way I think we viewed Nick Pivetta when we added him back to the rotation. It's up to him. He's got a really cool opportunity in front of him and he has a chance to seize it.”

Extra bases

• The Phillies activated left-hander Adam Morgan from the 10-day injured list. The club optioned left-hander Cole Irvin to Triple-A.

• Right-hander Tommy Hunter will make a rehab appearance Sunday with Class A Clearwater. He will be evaluated Monday in Philadelphia.

• Outfielder Adam Haseley continues to progress from a strained groin. He could begin a rehab assignment Monday.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook .