After playing 1,575 games at second base over 13 Major-League seasons, Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Chase Utley played third base Monday night for the first time in his career. Utley looked like a veteran at his new position, making a play on every ball that came his way.
After the game he admitted to there being some nervousness with playing on the other side of the diamond for the first time in his career. “It was OK after the first ground ball,” Utley said. “After I got that out of the way I felt more comfortable as the game went on. I was a little anxious.”
Dodgers players gave Utley the ball after that first play he made like he was a rookie, something that he found comical. “It was pretty funny, it was cool,” he said. “It was probably all done as a joke, but I’ll keep it.”
As experienced of a player as Utley is, there was still an adjustment for him in moving over to the left side. “Obviously, game speed is a little bit different,” he remarked. “You have your time clock in your head as a second baseman and it’s a little bit different at third base.
“The ball is hit a little bit harder and gets to you sooner, so you have a little bit more time, but it’s a longer throw. So you kind of have to make some adjustments on the fly. I feel like I made those but I still have plenty of room for improvement.”
The reasoning behind Utley’s move to third base is mainly due to the return of Howie Kendrick, who had been the Dodgers everyday second baseman all season before going down with a hamstring
Also, with Justin Turner battling some issues over the last month or so, being that this is his first season playing every day, Utley can provide depth at third base that Alex Guerrero has failed to do throughout the season.
The 36-year-old Utley wouldn’t answer whether he would feel comfortable at third base come the postseason, saying the team needed to make it first. However, he did add he would play wherever the team asks him to.