SportsNet LA recently opened their doors and pulled back the curtain for a select group of media members, with this year’s visit including an opportunity to speak with Chase Utley as he embarks on a new, if not unexpected, chapter.
When Utley announced his intention to retire at the conclusion of the 2018 season, he explained the decision largely stemmed from a desire to spend more time with his family. The Los Angeles Dodgers maintained an open door policy with Utley, who was in uniform during portions of Spring Training and has visited the team at Dodger Stadium as part of his advisory role.
“It’s been a good experience just kind of learning how the front office looks at players, compared to a player looking at players. There’s a lot more that goes into it than I ever thought,” Utley told DodgerBlue.com.
“So when the team is at home, I come around the stadium a little bit. I have a positive relationship with the players that are there, the coaching staff, front office. I think it all just makes sense. It kind of gives me a little bit of a voice and allows me to help in a number of different ways.”
In addition to maintaining close ties to the Dodgers on the field, he’s also doing so from a media standpoint. In March, Utley was named to the SportsNet LA team as a studio analyst. The announcement came as a bit of a surprise, which Utley himself admitted to.
“If you asked me 10 years ago if I thought I would work for a front office or be on TV, I would’ve said absolutely not,” he said. “But, I’ve enjoyed my experience here in L.A. One, because we had a great team. Two, because I grew up a Dodgers fan.
“Putting that all together was amazing. The ability to stay in baseball now that I’m not playing but still have some kind of voice, I thought was important. Trying the TV thing out, which is still new to me, but so far I’m enjoying it. It’s actually been fairly seamless.”
Utley’s business-like approach on the field during his 16-year career extended off it when it came to dealing with media. He more times than not was willing to accommodate interview requests, though always remained mindful to not necessarily provide responses that could become controversial soundbites.
Now in the opposite role, Utley is appreciative of a different perspective. “I enjoyed talking to the media but I gave them very little; kind of a game face, if you will,” he readily admitted.
“But now that I’m on the other side, it’s much more fun and interesting than I thought while I was a player. It’s still new, I’m still experiencing new things on a daily basis, but so far it’s been great. I’m still learning the kind of ins and outs.
“Using my baseball background is essentially my backbone right now. Trying to gather some information as the game is going on to see if there’s anything that stands out, anything that correlates to talk about after the game.
“I’m just trying to learn from Jerry and John, who do an outstanding job.”
Utley debuted with SportsNet LA for their June 10 coverage of the opener of the annual Freeway Series. He’s been in studio for a handful of broadcasts since, and has not made any firm plans on where a potential broadcasting career may lead to.
Aside from it already being an enjoyable experience, what’s most important is Utley has been afforded the opportunity to be with his wife and two young sons every day.
“I played for so long, and I felt like I was missing out on a lot of opportunities. When they’re babies, every day is pretty much the same,” Utley said.
“But now that they’re up and out and mobile and communicating, I felt like on a daily basis my wife would call and tell me a story. It would bum me out that I wasn’t there to experience it firsthand.
“Obviously I love baseball, but it was good timing in a number of aspects. I was starting to wind down, my age was catching up to me, my skill set was not trending in the right direction, and I was missing out on times at home. It just made a lot of sense to shut it down.
“First Easter we’ve had as a family in… Ever. Having a summer now, which is something that I haven’t had in 20 years. There’s been a lot of amazing experiences in just a short amount of time. Just being at home, sleeping in my bed, waking up my kids in the morning is nice.”