The Los Angeles Dodgers’ decision to re-sign Chase Utley last December came as somewhat of a curious one given the organization’s desire to infuse the roster with young talent. However, the gamble on Utley was minimal — one year and a $7 million salary.
After a strong showing in spring, the veteran infielder hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down through the first two-and-a-half weeks of the 2016 regular season. Utley’s contributions have been much needed, particularly with Howie Kendrick beginning the year on the disabled list due to a left calf strain.
In addition, the 37-year-old Utley has helped fill the leadoff spot — left vacant with Andre Ethier sustaining a fractured right tibia after fouling a pitch off his leg. Injuries to Carl Crawford and Scott Van Slyke have resulted in Kendrick playing left field, creating more opportunities for Utley to start at second base.
After back-to-back games off on April 14 and 15, the veteran has started the past five games entering play on Friday. Utley’s presence was particularly felt during the three-game set against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.
Less than 24 hours after recording six assists, sparking a rally and scoring the go-ahead run in an extra-innings win, Utley made a tremendous diving stop to help Clayton Kershaw get out of a bases-loaded jam in the second inning: