This time, it wasn't so overwhelming.
"But it's still a little awkward," Chase Utley admitted.
Still a fan favorite in the city in which he played for 13 seasons, Utley returned to Citizens Bank Park for the second time as a visiting player Monday night. He started at second base and batted seventh for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Utley received standing ovations and even a curtain call after hitting two home runs (one was a grand slam) when he returned to Philadelphia for the first time with the Dodgers last summer. The ovation before his first at-bat Monday night was not as long or as loud — a smaller crowd had something to do with that — but it was still quite nice. Utley, in fact, had to back out of the batter's box and tip his cap to the crowd.
"For the amount of years that I played here, to suit up in this locker room is just different," Utley said in the visiting clubhouse before the game. "You have to keep the focus if you're going to win some ballgames. There are some guys over on that team that I know and some new faces that I'm not familiar with. But we're here to win."
This four-game series won't be Utley's last visit to Citizens Bank Park — he'll always be a Phillie and will end up on the team's Wall of Fame someday — but it may be his last visit as an active player. He is 38 and hitting just .234. He did not re-sign with the Dodgers until the start of spring training this season and there has been speculation he could retire at season's end.
"I'm trying to take it one day at a time, but I'm still enjoying it, I'm still having fun," he said. "I still feel like I can contribute out there so I'm not looking too far ahead."
Utley won a World Series with the Phillies in 2008 and played in another with the club in 2009. He's an important role player and veteran presence on the team with the best record in baseball. A late-career return to the World Series would be special for Utley.
"We have a very talented club," he said. "There's a lot of excitement in that lineup, pitching staff and defense we have. There's a lot of good attributes here."
"I think the whole goal for everyone is to get to the World Series. That's what we work for. I believe we have not only the talent but the desire to get there."