Chase Utley

Chase Utley refuses to go away

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USA Today Images

Chase Utley refuses to go away

Chase Utley refuses to go away.

Utley, now 39, agreed to a two-year deal to return to the Dodgers, according to FanRag's Jon Heyman on Tuesday.

Utley has spent the last 2½ seasons in L.A. since being traded by the Phillies in August 2015. In those parts of three seasons, he's hit .240/.317./.395 and gone 4 for 46 in the playoffs.

But the Dodgers don't just want Utley for his offensive numbers. They value his work ethic, leadership and the vibe that rubs off on the rest of the clubhouse when he's around. The Dodgers are a deep team with a ton of talent and they clearly like the intangibles Utley brings.

Good for Chase, who made $7 million in 2016 and $2 million last season.

The bulk of Utley's playing time will likely come at second base against right-handed pitching as Logan Forsythe's platoon partner.

If Utley plays out the two-year contract, he'll have 17 major-league seasons under his belt. Pretty incredible to think about considering some questioned how much longer he could play when the chronic knee issues began to hamper him all the way back in 2010.

The Phillies' only home series against the Dodgers this season is July 23-25.

Chase Utley even knows how to fire up Eagles fans

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AP Images

Chase Utley even knows how to fire up Eagles fans

As if we needed further proof that Chase Utley is "The Man."

Well, we got more proof.

Utley didn't do anything special on the baseball diamond. After all, it's February.

Instead, he simply posted an epic video to his Instagram account.

How great is it?

So great that Utley is just casually hanging out with Kaitlin Olson and Rob McElhenney, two of the stars in the beloved television show "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."

So great that it has the Rocky music and all three flapping their arms in support of the Eagles, who meet the Patriots on Sunday night in Super Bowl LII.

And so great that Utley provides the perfect caption for the video, adding a little extra spice to his statement just like he did the last time Philadelphia held a championship parade.

As many know, Utley was once a guest star in "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and is admired by McElhenney's character, Mac. 

Utley is still admired in Philadelphia even though he hasn't worn Phillies red since 2015.

But just when you thought the Eagles' hype video was all you needed to get fired up, Utley delivers a money moment — which he did so often in this city.

Cooperstown calls Jim Thome

Cooperstown calls Jim Thome

Charlie Manuel likes to tell the story of how the Cleveland Indians brass asked him to peek in on some of the club's top young prospects during the instructional league in the fall of 1989.

After a few days, Manuel, then the Indians' big-league hitting coach, called back to Cleveland.

"There's this kid down here from Illinois that can really hit," Manuel said.

That kid was Jim Thome and on Wednesday night a spectacular baseball journey that started with his being an unheralded 13th-round draft pick of the Indians in 1989 took him to the Hall of Fame.

A friendly giant of a man — literally and figuratively — Thome slugged 612 home runs, eighth most all-time, and made five All-Star teams. Those credentials helped fuel a first-ballot selection to Cooperstown by voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Though Thome spent the majority of his career with the Indians, his selection was felt profoundly in Philadelphia, where he is a member of the Phillies' Wall of Fame. Thome played four seasons with the Phils and clubbed 101 home runs — including the milestone 400th of his career — with the club. He came to the Phillies as a free agent before the 2003 season, the team's last in Veterans Stadium. He finished fourth in the National League MVP balloting that year.

Though Thome was gone — traded to the Chicago White Sox to clear a spot for a kid named Ryan Howard — by the time the Phillies broke a 14-year postseason drought in 2007 and won the World Series in 2008, his signing marked a reawakening for an organization that had slumbered in the years following its winning the NL pennant in 1993.

Thome, who now works in the White Sox front office, was always a gentleman and a first-class teammate — "the best I ever had," said Dan Plesac, who pitched for 18 seasons in the majors — during his playing days. It seemed as if the entire baseball world was happy for him Wednesday night as he received 89.8 percent of a necessary 75 percent (of 422 ballots) for election.

No one was happier for Thome than Manuel, his mentor and former manager in Cleveland and Philadelphia.

“I couldn’t be happier for Jim, who is like a son to me," Manuel said. "This is totally deserving and, for me, ranks up there with anything I’ve ever seen happen in the game of baseball.

"For someone that I met as a 19-year-old and saw improve as much as anyone over time, it makes me smile to think that all that hard work, all those swings in the batting cage, paid off for him. 

"I started thinking this was possible after he hit his 500th home run and for the day to finally be here — it’s like winning the World Series all over again."

Phillies management, from the ownership level to then-general manager Ed Wade, targeted Thome after the 2002 season to help build some electricity around an improving club as it prepared to move into a new stadium, Citizens Bank Park, in 2004.

"A transformative moment for our organization," David Montgomery, the Phillies chairman, said of Thome's decision to accept the team's six-year, $85 million contract offer.

"Jim’s signing with the Phillies accomplished a great many things for the organization," Wade said. "First, he made us a better team. He gave us the opportunity to develop Ryan Howard at the proper pace. His clubhouse presence among a lot of outstanding young players allowed them to learn how to handle the pressures of the game. 

"In a global sense, his signing validated and reinforced the promises we made to our fans about being fully committed to use the resources of a new ballpark to build a championship-caliber organization. And, he just happened to open the door for us to hire the winningest manager in Phillies history: Charlie Manuel. Baseball, the Phillies, Philadelphia and many of us individually owe a debt of gratitude to Jim Thome.”

In addition to Thome, Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman were elected by the writers. Jones, like Thome, made it in his first year of eligibility.

Thome, 47, ranks 23rd all-time with a .5541 career slugging percentage. The Peoria, Illinois, native hit 40 or more homers six times.

And while he impacted baseballs with his powerful left-handed stroke, his impact on his teammates was also profound.

"I want to say congrats to one of the most deserving, and one of the most genuine, people I’ve ever met in my entire life," Howard said.

"He was an unbelievable hitter but somehow an even better person," Chase Utley said.

“They didn’t call him ‘Gentleman Jim’ for nothing," Brett Myers said. "A great family man and that’s exactly how he treated his teammates — as family. He greeted everyone with a smile no matter who you were and made sure he spoke to all his teammates no matter what kind of day he was having.”

Jimmy Rollins said sharing a clubhouse with Thome was an honor.

"His infectious smile, gentle nature, and the extra-large and tight hugs he’d give his friends because he was genuinely excited to see you were things I looked forward to every day," Rollins said. "I congratulate him on a well-deserved Hall of Fame selection."