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Chase Utley takes ground balls at third base, is open to a position switch

Chase Utley, Emilio Bonifacio

Philadelphia Phillies’ Chase Utley comes down with the throw from the plate but Florida Marlins’ Emilio Bonifacio steals second during the first inning of a baseball game, Friday, Aug. 26, 2011, in Philadelphia. The Marlins won 6-5. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)

AP

Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that Chase Utley took ground balls at third base today “to see if it would be option down road.”

And according to David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News the longtime second baseman recently “approached Ruben Amaro Jr. and asked the Phillies general manager whether he thought playing some third base in the future was realistic.”

Utley has been one of the best all-around second basemen in baseball for a decade, including what has typically been underrated defense, but at age 33 and with all kinds of knee problems a position switch could make some sense.

It would also give the Phillies more flexibility as they pursue infield targets to replace Placido Polanco, whose option for 2013 will almost surely be declined. Of course, Utley told Murphy that it was his first time taking ground balls at third base in 10 years and his arm strength has never been great even at second base, so for now it’s just an idea.