PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With the 15th overall pick in the 2000 MLB amateur draft, the Philadelphia Phillies selected a kid named Chase Utley. Just two years prior, Ruben Amaro Jr. began his tenure as Phillies executive, becoming the team’s assistant general manager.
Naturally, 15 years, countless memories, and a World Series title later, it was hard for Amaro to say goodbye.
“I have at times, maybe not lately at times, been accused of being a Chase Utley lover,” Amaro told Angelo Cataldi and the 94WIP Morning Show on Thursday morning. “And have been someone who has respected him more than most people could probably understand as an executive. I grew up with Chase Utley and cut my teeth really when he came up in 2000.
Listen: Ruben Amaro Jr. on the 94WIP Morning Show
“It’s hard to describe what he meant to the city,” Amaro continued. “It’s hard to describe what he meant to the organization because he embodied pretty much everything you wanted to have as a teammate, as a leader, as a person on the field, as a person off the field. Everything about, what Chase Utley was about, was what was right with the Philadelphia Phillies and the city of Philadelphia.
“I don’t know if there is a more special or iconic athlete that the Philadelphia fan in particular could recognize and support.”
Special enough for the Phillies to retire the number 26?
“That is a decision that is in the pay grade a little higher than mine, but it’s certainly something we would have to consider,” Amaro said. “We had over that era, probably, and most definitely the best shortstop, second baseman, and first baseman ever in the history of our franchise and I think that there’s gonna be a time when they will all be recognized and many others. I guess it’s a possibility. I’m not sure. We typically do not—we have not, as far as I know, done that for players who are not in the Hall Of Fame. But who knows, who knows what’s gonna happen with his Hall Of Fame status.”
Amaro, who told the 94WIP Morning Show on Tuesday that it is “very likely” Utley remains a Phillie for the rest of the season, admitted there “was more discussion with a couple more clubs and obviously with Chase, who had quite a bit of power in this situation.”
The Phillies sent Utley and cash considerations (reportedly $4 million to offset the remaining $6 million on his 2015 salary) to the Dodgers in exchange for outfielder Darnell Sweeney and right-hander John Richy.
“Chase obviously was the heart and soul of our club, and in many ways our organization,” Amaro said. “Doing this rebuild and making this transition is not easy.
“He’s a special player and has been a special player and been special and iconic—as I said before—iconic, generational player for us and the city. And I think it was important for him to get the opportunity to go do what he needed to do, and that’s to go and play for a club that has a chance to win.”
The trade was developing while the Phillies were playing the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park and unfortunately, as Amaro admits, the Phillies were unable to give Utley the proper send off.
“I feel very badly that it didn’t [happen],” Amaro said of Utley not being honored on the field Wednesday night. “In fact, we had planned to do something very special for him during the course of the game. Sadly, there are so many different elements that have to happen to announce trades, to make things happen.”