We knew it was bound to happen eventually, but after eleven-plus seasons as the Phillies’ starting second baseman, it appears Chase Utley has been replaced by Cesar Hernandez. That’s right, Ruben Amaro Jr. is finally, somewhat, letting go of the past. Yesterday in Los Angeles, when being questioned on whether or not Chase Utley would be the team’s second baseman upon his return from a nagging ankle injury, Amaro replied, “Not for me, he’s not. Hernandez is best our second baseman.”
Amaro’s full comments are as follows:
“As far as I’m concerned, just like what our plan has been for a long, long time, and that’s to give opportunities to young men who could be part of our future. Cesar Hernandez has been one of our best players on the field right now in a variety of ways – running the bases, playing defense, playing with energy. He can switch-hit. He can run. He’s doing a lot of the things that we want to see out of our young players.”
You can’t argue with Amaro on this one. It is what the fans have been begging him to say. In 72 games with the Phillies this season, Hernandez has a slash line of .301/.386/.383. While in 65 games played in 2015, Utley has a slash line of .179/.257/.275. Not to mention, Hernadez is leading the team in walks, OPS, and batting average. Amaro does claim that interim manager, Pete Mackanin does have the final say on the matter. But when asked about what he would do when Utley returned, Mackanin responded with, “I don’t know.”
If Hernandez does officially take over the second base job, where would Utley fit in? It is funny to think about, but Utley would end up on the bench. Amaro says he will get in some playing time if he’s healthy. He could also see some time at first base, according to the general manager. But we have at least a month to wait and see.
As a Phillies fan myself, I would be remiss if I didn’t say thank you to Chase Utley on behalf of all of us fans, for all of your years at second base and bringing the city of Philadelphia a championship title. You may not be retiring yet, but it sadly is the end of the “Chase Utley Era.”