PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – When Chase Utley missed the first part of the 2012 Phillies season due to problems with his knees, many figured it was the beginning of the end for the second baseman.
But a new off-season conditioning program brought a revived Utley in 2013. He missed time due to injury, but it was unrelated to his knees, or his hip (an oblique strain). He played in 131 games, and had his highest OPS since the 2010 season. The 131 games were his most in a season since 2009, when the Phillies went to the World Series.
The off-season routine worked so well, he’s decided to keep it. Utley said he’s following the same plan as last year, and is feeling great.
“I’ve always tried to attack the problem. I still feel like I have a lot left in the tank,” Utley said in an interview with Angelo Cataldi and the WIP Morning Show on Monday. “I know I’ve missed some time over the past few years, but that happens and you try to make the most out of it and try to keep positive and not try to let it put you down.”
“I absolutely think I can [duplicate last season’s success]. Obviously staying healthy is a big factor. Having people around you that can—we all feed off each other. If the guys ahead of you are doing, the guys behind you are doing well, everybody can kind of feed off that energy. So, that’s what I’m looking forward to. Getting down to spring training, working with these guys, and trying to put a good year together, not individually, but as a team.”
When money for baseball’s free agents are at record levels, Utley decided to stay with the Phillies, signing an extension prior to the 2012 season.
“I really enjoyed playing baseball in Philadelphia. There’s really no better place to play. As long as we’re playing fairly well, there’s no better place to play. They [Philadelphia fans] can be tough on you at times, but you know what, they kind of bring the best out of you. There’s no more beautiful stadium than Citizens Bank Park,’ Utley said. “Everyone was trying to get a feel for everything this past year. Losing Charlie [Manuel], him and Ryan [Howard], there was a lot of awkward things last year, but the bright side is guys had an opportunity to play that hadn’t played at this level before. Guys got their feet wet. Come this year, it’s time to get it rolling now.”
The biggest story in baseball recently has been the suspension of Alex Rodriguez for his PED use. Utley was asked whether PED users should be considered for the Hall of Fame.
“I haven’t even thought about the Hall of Fame. I think it’s something to be talked about. I think a guy that gets caught using should be suspended, he’s breaking the rules. The rules are what they are and I think Major League Baseball and the players associating over the past few years has done a better job of catching guys that are trying to cheat the system and I think going forward they are going to continue to crack down on that,” Utley said. “You know, it’s kind of weird because I came into the league when they had just kind of started drug testing. So it’s never been around, or at least I haven’t seen it a lot and therefore, obviously nobody would talk about it. It’s obviously a little bit frustrating to see that guys are still doing it, but I firmly believe that they’ll continue to weed those guys out.”
Cataldi vowed to donate $100 to the Utley Foundation for every home run Utley hits this year. Cataldi said he was hoping to donate $3,000 this year, and Utley said it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility.
The Utley Foundation
How to Donate:
To donate to the Utley Foundation, please mail your tax deductible donation in the form of a personal or business check to:
The Utley Foundation
C/O Winningham Becker & Co
cc Ruby Magsambol
21031 Ventura Blvd, Suite 1000, 10th Floor
Woodland Hills CA 91364
OR: visit theutleyfoundation.com
Mission Statement for the Utley Foundation:
The Utley Foundation was established to bring awareness to the increasing epidemic of animal cruelty. Our mission is to educate the community in the proper treatment of animals and raise funds for the fight against animal neglect, pain and suffering.