When the Los Angeles Dodgers re-signed Chase Utley it was under the presumption he would spell Howie Kendrick at second base and Justin Turner at third. The 2015 season was the first time in Utley’s career he’d played the hot corner in the Majors.
However, Kendrick suffered a calf strain in Spring Training and began the season on the 15-day disabled list. Utley was not only needed to fill the void, but he also was anointed the Dodgers leadoff hitter. That opportunity presented itself in some part due to Andre Ethier sustaining a fractured tibia.
Although Kendrick came off the DL just seven games into the season, Utley was entrenched as the starting second baseman. He’d gone 9-for-29 with two doubles, one triple, two RBI and two walks over that span.
Utley had a hit in five of the seven games, three of which were multi-hit games. However, after a strong first two months the veteran’s production began to decline. Considering Utley’s BABIP was over .300 in April and May, regression certainly seemed possible, if not likely.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts nonetheless stuck with the 37-year-old at second base and in the leadoff spot. Utley rewarded Roberts with improved production in July and August, though there were still plenty of droughts.
Roberts revealed in late-August that Utley had been bothered by left foot soreness for the better part of a month. He finished the year batting .252/.319/.396 with 26 doubles, three triples, 14 home runs, 52 RBI and a 95 OPS+.
Utley appeared in 138 games — the most since his All-Star campaign in 2014.
Being traded to the Dodgers in August 2015 brought an end to Utley’s historic career with the Philadelphia Phillies, the only organization he’d played for to that point. The deal came after the Dodgers’ visit to Citizens Bank Park, which made this season Utley’s first return.
He received a standing ovation from the typically-hostile Phillies fans, and put together a tremendous showing. Utley connected on two home runs, including a grand slam, and received two curtain calls.
Utley said in August he intended to continue playing beyond this season. More recently, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman acknowledged the club has interest in re-singing Utley, citing his positive influence in the clubhouse.
The 14-year veteran returning with the Dodgers isn’t beyond the realm of possibility, but it presumably would come in a role off the bench considering his struggles as an everyday player.