Photo courtesy St. Pete Beach Photo
Oh, so this might actually be happening.
Last week, interwebers went crazy when news broke that Chase Utley was taking grounders at third base. He did it again on Tuesday. Other than some quotes from infield coach Sam Perlozzo, though, no one from the Phillies talked about how plausible it would be for Utley to be the Phillies’ future third baseman. He played 123 games there in AAA in 2002, and had the lowest fielding percentage of his professional career– .918 (next lowest is .970). But today, in an exclusive interview with CSN’s Jim Salisbury, Ruben Amaro was surprisingly candid. And probably smug.
Will your 2013 third baseman come from outside the organization?
Unless we feel Chase is a viable possibility there, and we’re exploring it.
What do you have to see before you think he could be a viable possibility? Don’t you have to see him in a game or two before this season is over, or send him to Instructional League?
Maybe. That’s really up to Chase. I don’t think we would send him to Instructional League. A lot of it depends on how he continues to progress as he takes ground balls, how he feels, and how comfortable or uncomfortable he is.
Is it possible he comes to you, say on Sept. 21, and says, “Let’s give it a try?”
Very possible. And I may go to him and say the same thing. Of course, I don’t want to put Chase, and I don’t think it’s fair to him – we don’t want to have people put in positions to fail. We want to put people in positions to succeed. That should be our business.
I do believe so. If he’s committed and feels comfortable doing it, I have to give him the benefit of the doubt based on his athleticism and makeup.
If he could do it …
It would be excellent. But I can’t sit here today and say he’s going to be our third baseman next year. That’s not fair to Chase.
The fact that Ruben even approached that possibility is fairly astonishing. It makes it less of a pipe dream and more of an option. Not sure it’s going to work, though. Chase’s strength as a fielder has always been his range and ability to make somewhat spectacular plays when given an extra bounce to track down a ball. But his arm strength has always been below average, and then there was that whole 2009 NLCS throwing accuracy thing.
It would be asking a lot of a guy to switch positions at this point in his career. Chase is a slightly different specimen, however, and probably has enough will power to not be terrible playing third. But would it work in the long-term? I asked Chase for his thoughts. He just shrugged…