Chase Utley took ground balls the other day...seated in a chair.
I am not about to write the baseball obituary of a player as determined and dedicated as Utley, but I am forcibly reminded with his latest injury how fleeting the presence of greatness can be.
Among the many times I've written about Utley, these snippets stand out:
May 11, 2010
How many times over the last few seasons has Chase Utley flipped the ball with his glove to the shortstop or first baseman? It's getting to be a routine thing with Chase and it ain't an easy thing to do, especially when you are falling down or diving as is frequently the case with the Phils' second baseman. The guy just goes hard on every play. Remind yourselves not to take him for granted for one play. Be grateful you are watching one of the great players of this or any era.
April 22, 2010
As for Utley, one cannot get enough of him. It is pure pleasure to watch him step out of the box, look around at the defensive alignments and try and hit the ball where they ain't. He's never going to be a Gold Glove infielder but if possible he's even better than that, a player who makes the most of what he has, which is tremendous range, better than average hands and a average arm. He always managed to put himself in position to make all the plays, especially the tough ones. It's impossible to take him for granted because every time he steps into the batter's box or makes a play I remind myself I am watching one of those once-in-a-lifetime players and I don't want to miss a thing!
July 10, 2009
Watching Chase Utley lately I reminded myself for the umpteenth time to never take him for granted. I don't want to look back ten years from now and not have a clear image of him doing what he does better than virtually any other player of his generation -- play the game in every facet with astonishing determination, concentration, commitment and achievement.
They say the great players never take an at-bat off. I recall this notion every time he comes to the plate.
Utley arrived in the big leagues with an excellent reputation for his bat but a lot of question marks about his fielding. No one knew this better than he did so, naturally, he set out to make himself a fine fielder. While he may never be the most graceful or acrobatic fielder, he will always be a smart one who makes every play.
We are very lucky to see him play every day.