It's reasonable to have concluded a few years ago that Chase Utley's best Philadelphia Phillies' years were gone. As one of the most dynamic players of this current red pinstriped era enters what could be his final Phillies' season, one has to wonder if he might be able to work his magic one more time.
Utley's appearance on the Veterans Stadium turf for 43 games in 2003 was another early sign that championship moments would soon arrive. As he, Jimmy Rollins, Jim Thome and the rest of a developing team moved to Citizens Bank Park in 2004, they were greeted by another friendly face and the mean bat of Ryan Howard by the end of that inaugural season.
The days of Utley platooning at second base, due to his early challenges against left-handed pitching, gave way to full-time status and eventual prominence within the game. The 2005-2009 seasons were later digitally marked as the prime of his career.
Little did anyone know that his historic five home run performance in the 2009 World Series against the New York Yankees likely served as the last brilliant flash of his career.
Playing through a degenerative knee condition for the next two seasons, number 26 finally received a proper diagnosis by the spring of 2012. Having gained the ability to “manage” the pain, Utley was finally able to play regularly after running away from the disabled list late last June.
Possibly this 10-year veteran will be able to increase his offensive output this season, which might warrant a limited contract extension. Then again, any production (short of the spectacular) might not be enough to justify any further investment.
With whatever this 34-year-old does, it's likely that the faithful won't see anyone who resembles him in the near future.