Chase Utley Defying Age, Turning Back The Clock For Dodgers
Chase Utley Defying Age, Turning Back The Clock For Dodgers
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

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When the Los Angeles Dodgers opened Spring Training this year, there were many questions about the roster, not the least of which was who would start at second base in 2016. Initially earmarked for Howie Kendrick, Chase Utley quickly took control of the position and has not looked back.

In a season that’s come with some disappointment and frustration, Utley’s play has been one of the biggest positives. This is two seasons after it appeared the Dodgers had the player who would finally bring long-term stability at second base.

Dee Gordon emerged in 2014, leading the Majors with 64 stolen bases and 12 triples. Gordon made his first National League All Star appearance that season and while he did slow down the stretch, he finished the year batting .289/.326/.378.

The speedster became the first Dodgers to lead the National League in stolen bases since Davey Lopes in 1976. Then, inexplicably, he was gone. Gordon proceeded to lead the NL last season in batting average and stolen bases, while winning his first Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award.

He became the first player in Major League Baseball history to win a Gold Glove, lead the Majors in stolen bases and win the batting title all in the same season. Until April 29, 2016, when Gordon was shockingly suspended for performance-enhancing drugs, the trade continued to sting.

Enter Utley. He was born in Pasadena, Calif., and raised in Long Beach. He played shortstop in high school, but was moved to second base once on campus at UCLA, and has since flourished.

He had an outstanding career with the Philadelphia Phillies from 2003 through mid-2015 where he was a six-time All Star and chosen by Sports Illustrated for Major League Baseball’s All-Decade Team for the 2000s.

In recent years, however, Utley was slowed by injuries and when he was traded to the Dodgers last August, it was believed that at 36 years old, his career was coming to an end.

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