Chase Utley is among the select players on the Los Angeles Dodgers roster whose reputation precedes him. The veteran infielder isn’t one for the spotlight and regularly puts the team’s accomplishments ahead of personal success.
Utley has found himself at the center of attention over the past week or so with the Dodgers facing the Philadelphia Phillies. He admitted to there being a strange feeling in playing against his former club for the first time when the Phillies were in Los Angeles.
The ante was increased Tuesday as Utley returned to the city he called home for nearly 13 seasons. Utley said the series at Citizens Bank Park was one he was looking forward to, and he, nor the crowd, didn’t disappoint.
Phillies’ fans gave their former hero a long standing ovation prior to Utley’s first at-bat of the game. The 37-year-old expressed his gratitude over that treatment, via Evan Webeck and Todd Zolecki of MLB.com:
“It’s completely overwhelming. The standing ovation my first at-bat was something that I’ll never forget, to be honest with you. It was truly special. It really shows how passionate and how great the Philadelphia fan base is. It was probably one of the most nervous at-bats I’ve ever had, honestly, at any level. I was glad to get that first at-bat over with.”
Utley extended the Dodgers’ lead to 3-1 with a solo home run in the fifth inning. But rather than be the subject of boos, he was cheered and coaxed into a curtain call. Utley then clubbed a grand slam in the seventh, which elicited more cheers and a second curtain call.
Because of when the trade was made official last August, Utley didn’t have the opportunity to say goodbye to the fans at Citizens Bank Park. So, the Dodgers have now been part of two homecomings in the past two seasons, with Utley edging Jimmy Rollins in adulation received.