The moments Chase Utley realized Roy Halladay's eminence

The moments Chase Utley realized Roy Halladay's eminence

Chase Utley seldom looks out of place on a baseball field.

He is a preparation junkie, always in tip-top shape and runs out every play like it's his last.

Then he met the surgeon on the mound.

Roy Halladay, a competitor of Utley's ilk, was his match.

In his career, "The Man" never logged an official at-bat against "Doc" — and for that, he considers himself fortunate.

However ...

"I believe I faced him in spring training and he made me look like a little leaguer out there," Utley said Wednesday on NBC Sports Philadelphia's Philly Sports Talk. "And I think I might have faced him in the All-Star Game (2009), and I remember thinking, 'OK, I've heard a lot about him, first pitch I see that's going to be a strike, I'm going to try to put it in play.' I did and I was out. He was a man among boys out there. He truly was."

Utley and Halladay, astoundingly alike in their baseball makeup and mindset, shared an incredible appreciation for one another, especially after they became teammates in 2010.

Over the past two days, Utley has found himself sharing that appreciation in the wake of Halladay's death on Tuesday, a result of a tragic plane crash.

"Obviously this is terrible, my heart goes out to Brandy and his two boys (Ryan and Braden)," Utley said. "I know he was really involved in their athletic abilities. I did a camp for them, this was a few years ago, and he was a coach, he had all the gear on, and he was really into it. Words can't really describe … it's just not a good thing. But I think it's important to reflect on all the positive things that he not only did for Major League Baseball, but for the Phillies and his teammates. He really made his teammates better."

Utley was made better by Halladay as the two pushed each other with their drive to be better than the day before. Utley offered a glimpse inside his own routine for spring training.

And the day someone actually beat him to the ballpark.

It was Halladay at 5:45 a.m.

"I heard a lot of good things about Roy prior to actually meeting him. Going back to the Instagram post that I put out [Tuesday], I thought I was a guy that got to the ballpark early to get a bunch of work done before the day really started," Utley said. "I walked in, I think I was with Brian Schneider at the time, and Roy was sitting there in his workout gear, almost finished with breakfast, he was soaking wet. I assumed he had worked out, but I made a joke, 'Hey, man, was it raining when you walked into the ballpark?' He kind of looked at me, laughed [and said], 'No, I just finished my workout.' That's something that I'll never forget about him. Right then and there, I knew what he was all about — all the rumors, all the stories that I heard about him prior to that, I knew they were all real."

Halladay captured the hearts of Philadelphia. A blue-collar city could tip its cap to a player with such dedication and determination.

Utley said those traits resonated with his teammates, as well.

"He was obviously an important part of our ballclub and he rubbed guys the right way, he made guys around him better, he was the best pitcher in all of baseball," Utley said. "Our pitching staff, even our position players, kind of watched what he did in between starts and I think a lot of them implemented that into what they did on a daily basis. Guys gravitated towards him.

"What he did, in the era that he did it, is truly remarkable. There's a reason he was so good. Obviously everyone is talking about how hard he worked between starts, and it was no joke. He was getting after it and it motivated me, it motivated a lot of guys to try to become the best player you could be. And he got the most out of everything.

"He was a once-in-a-lifetime player to be honest with you."

Utley got a taste of it one steamy day in Chicago's Friendly Confines, where he was baptized with Halladay's unmatched intensity.

"I remember a game we were playing in Wrigley Field. And for some reason that day, it felt like it was 1,000 degrees on the field. There was no breeze, it was probably 105 degrees, but the heat index must have been much higher," Utley said. "And he was working. As we all know, he was working hard out on the mound.

"I remember thinking, 'OK, he's working hard, it's super hot out here, I'm going to go to the mound and maybe give him a breather.' So I go to the mound, I think I pretend like I'm tying my shoes and he looked at me with like this evil look. I knew right then and there, he didn't need a break, he didn't need to take any time off. He wanted to get back to pitching, so I learned my lesson at that point to not bother him when he's doing his thing on the mound."

That's because Halladay was as fierce as any when it came to winning. Utley mentioned the decisive Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals. Halladay allowed a leadoff triple to Rafael Furcal, who a moment later scored what turned out to be the game's only run. Halladay finished with eight innings of one-run ball and seven strikeouts. The Phillies lost, 1-0, and the 102-win season was over way too early.

Still, Utley looks back on that night in amazement of Halladay.

"You knew looking into his eyes after they scored that one run, that they were not going to score another run," Utley said. "And they didn't. Unfortunately we were not able to squeeze a run across, but I remember him just sitting in the locker room after the game, as we all were disappointed. At that point, I just said, 'Doc, you did everything you could do, you need to hold your head high.' I think that picked him up a little bit, but he was all about winning, that's what he wanted to do on a daily basis."

He accomplished plenty in Philadelphia. The perfect game, the postseason no-hitter, the 2010 NL Cy Young, the franchise-record 102 victories.

All with class.

"One thing that I took from him was obviously he was a great pitcher, he had so much success with the Phillies, but after every game he pitched well, which was pretty much the majority of all of them, he would always kind of deflect the attention to somebody else as far as, 'Chooch (Carlos Ruiz) called a great game, Ryan Howard had the big home run, Jayson Werth made a great play in the outfield,'" Utley said. "That right there showed me what kind of person he was — he wasn't about himself, he was about the team and he was definitely all about winning."

And, he somehow made a guy like Utley want to work even harder.

J.P. Crawford suffers broken left hand, out 4-6 weeks

J.P. Crawford suffers broken left hand, out 4-6 weeks

J.P. Crawford is headed back to the disabled list. The 23-year-old infielder suffered a broken left hand when he was hit by a pitch Tuesday night by St. Louis right-hander Luke Weaver. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said Crawford would be out four to six weeks.

Crawford already missed five weeks earlier this season with a forearm strain. He came off the disabled list on June 6 and had been getting an extended look at third base.

Crawford’s latest injury means Maikel Franco will likely get another full-time chance at third base. Franco had lost reps to Crawford recently.

The Phillies did not immediately announce a replacement for Crawford on the roster. Outfielder Dylan Cozens could be a possibility. He is on the DL with a quadriceps injury.

Crawford was hit in the fourth inning. He was not available for comment after the game. He is hitting .194 in 34 games.

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Phillies stand by bullpen after another meltdown in loss to Cardinals

Phillies stand by bullpen after another meltdown in loss to Cardinals


It was another bad night for the Phillies’ bullpen Tuesday. Three more runs allowed, another blown lead, another home run. For the month of June, Phillies relievers have a 6.17 ERA and they have given up 64 hits, including a majors-high 13 home runs, in 54 innings.

Things have turned so badly for the bullpen that now even dashing debutant Seranthony Dominguez is giving up killer hits.

The hard-throwing rookie right-hander surrendered a tie-breaking, solo home run to St. Louis Cardinals leadoff man Matt Carpenter in the top of the ninth inning as the Phillies blew a late two-run lead in what ended up a 7-6 loss (see first take).

Dominguez, brought in after Rhys Hoskins tied the game with a two-run double in the bottom of the eighth, struck out the first two batters in the ninth before Carpenter, looking like a man who knew what was coming, unloaded on an 0-2 fastball and sent it over the wall in right. Dominguez didn’t want to climb the ladder on Carpenter. He didn’t want to throw his slider. He wanted to get him out with a fastball on the inside part of the plate. He missed his spot and allowed his first homer in 22 1/3 innings as a big-leaguer.

Dominguez might have been guilty of being a little too proud of his fastball, thinking he could get it by Carpenter.

“I don’t think it was a rookie mistake at all,” manager Gabe Kapler said of the 0-2 fastball. “I think it was not a perfectly located pitch. But you can find those from veterans and you can find them from rookies. It’s just imperfect. If you can rewind time, maybe you throw that pitch a little more in off the plate and maybe then it’s foul. This is a game of inches and we’ve seen that over the last couple of days.”

Indeed, the Phillies won Monday night’s game in extra innings when Aaron Altherr’s go-ahead double fell just in front of a diving Marcell Ozuna in left.

Earlier Tuesday night, Carpenter tagged a 1-0 curveball from Tommy Hunter for a game-tying, two-run double with two outs in the seventh. That hit was the first of three straight against Hunter as the Cards rallied for four runs in the seventh to take a 6-4 lead.

Hunter, in the first year of a two-year, $18 million contract, picked up Vince Velasquez in the inning after Velasquez had given up a single and hit a batter. Hunter got the first out before giving up a pair of two-run doubles, including Carpenter's.

“I had a lot of confidence in Tommy to get us out of that jam and their hitters did a really good job tonight,” Kapler said. “We just got beat by some good hitters tonight.”

It seems every night brings a new bullpen drama for this team. But management remains confident in the group. General manager Matt Klentak said so before the game (see story). He even singled out Hunter, who entered with a 4.05 ERA in 24 games, as possibly having the best year of his career. Even after the game, Kapler remained steadfastly confident in the bullpen. In recent days, he has been asked about possible upgrades. He believes the Phillies can solve their problems with the relievers that are currently here. 

“Roughly six days ago, the questions that we were addressing were: Are you concerned about this offense and I said very comfortably that I had a lot of confidence in this offense and the reason I said I had a lot of confidence in this offense is because I know that we have a talented group of individuals, guys that have a track record of success,” Kapler said. “I’m very confident in our bullpen, too, for the same reason. We have a lot of athletic arms out there, guys that are prepared to play every single night, guys with a track record of success. Seranthony has been dominant through the beginning of his career. Tommy Hunter has years of success under his belt. That’s why we went out and got him. Do I have confidence in our bullpen? Absolutely. Just like I have confidence in our offense.”

Odubel Herrera and Carlos Santana homered to help the Phils build a 4-2 lead for Velasquez. He allowed those two base runners with one out in the seventh to make Hunter’s job a little more difficult.

“Vince threw his tail off,” Hunter said. “But you know, it's just unfortunate that I wasn't able to get that done right there. It was a big part of the game, and I didn't come through. That's pretty much the whole gist of it.”

The loss left the Phillies at 38-33 and the bullpen licking its wounds.

The Phils also lost J.P. Crawford to a broken left hand (see story).

“Frustrating game to lose, obviously,” Kapler said.

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