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Chase Utley goes deep in first at-bat of the 2012 season, finishes 3-for-5 in debut

Jun 27, 2012, 7:41 PM EDT

Pittsburgh Pirates v Philadelphia Phillies Getty Images

Chase Utley‘s 2012 debut is off to a rocking start.

The veteran second baseman — who missed nearly three months due to a knee injury — blasted a solo home run to deep right field in the bottom of the first inning Wednesday night against the Pirates. It was his first plate appearance since last October 7.

Carlos Ruiz followed with a solo shot of his own, lifting the Phils to an early 2-0 lead over the Bucs.

Utley hit just .189/.279/.351 on his 10-game rehab assignment, but that rust has clearly not followed him back to the bigs. And he should continue to provide a spark for a team that has badly needed one.

The Phillies entered play Wednesday with a poor 36-40 record, ranking fourth in the five-team NL East.


UPDATE, 8:03 PM: Utley nearly went deep again in his second at-bat, driving a ball to the warning track in center field. Andrew McCutchen was able to haul it in. The Pirates are up 3-2 in the third inning.

UPDATE, 9:07 PM: Utley legged out an infield single in the sixth, running well down the line. It’s 8-4, Bucs.

UPDATE, 9:41 PM: Utley singled to right in his fourth at-bat. The Phillies are rallying and trail by just one.

UPDATE, 10:09 PM: That rally has been stunted, as noted by’s Jim Salisbury:

The Pirates have scored three runs in the top of the eighth and are now leading the Phillies 11-7.

UPDATE, 10:39 PM: That 11-7 lead holds as the Pirates win. Utley went 3-for-5 in his season debut.

  1. chew1985 - Jun 27, 2012 at 7:50 PM

    I hope all his injury issues are behind him. And if some perpetually linger, I hope he can be a DH for the rest of his career so baseball fans can watch him every day. He has been the best single reason to be a Phillies fan over the last decade.

  2. phillyphan83 - Jun 27, 2012 at 7:51 PM

    4 games below .500 with no Utley, Howard, and a limited Doc…I’ll take it!! Any team would, now bring back Howard and its time for the rest of the NL East to start worrying again. The REAL Phillies are almost here!!! Howard starting his rehab assignment on Friday.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 27, 2012 at 8:01 PM

      Curious, should they start worrying before or after they bring back Howard, because Utley has been the far better player over the last few years…

      • bleedgreen - Jun 27, 2012 at 11:38 PM

        Despite ‘declining’, Howard still had 116 RBI last year and over 30HRs. I’ll take that. Is his contract worth it? No, but he was still VERY productive. I don’t pay his salary, so I don’t care what they pay him. He still hits the ball.

      • sasquash20 - Jun 28, 2012 at 12:22 AM

        I love Utley, he is probably the best 2nd baseman the Phillies have ever had. That being said R.Howard has been the best and most important bat the Phillies have had during this current run of the last 5-7 years AND IT ISN’T EVEN CLOSE.

      • cktai - Jun 28, 2012 at 6:55 AM

        I would say that Howard and Utley have been roughly as important as one another with the bat. Howard has 286 HR, 633 R and 864 RBI, a batting line of .275/.368/.560 and a wRC+ of 134. Utley has 189 HR, 732 R and 695 RBI, a batting line of .290/.377/.506 and a wRC+ of 132. They compliment each other greatly. One of the reasons why Howard has so many runs is because he can hit with Utley on base all the time.

        However, Utley has that production as a second baseman, and one with a decent glove as well. That makes him so much more valuable than Howard overall.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 28, 2012 at 8:48 AM

        That being said R.Howard has been the best and most important bat the Phillies have had during this current run of the last 5-7 years AND IT ISN’T EVEN CLOSE.

        Since ’04 when Chase played more than half the games we have:

        Utley – .292/.379/.510 – .386 wOBA – 134 wRC+
        Howard – .275/.368/.560 – .385 wOBA – 134 wRC+

        So virtually the same exact batting line for the two, not sure how Howard WAS THE BEST!!!!

        Also since there are other parts of the game than just hitting, we get:

        Utley – 50.4 fWAR
        Howard – 23.1 fWAR

        So yeah, it’s not even close, but not for the person you are describing.

  3. sneschalmers - Jun 27, 2012 at 7:57 PM

    • seahawks19081 - Jun 27, 2012 at 8:20 PM

      I give you a thumbs up for your name. Fantastic!!!!!!

      • number42is1 - Jun 27, 2012 at 8:35 PM

        Hi Lisa, Hi Principal Skinner, Hi super nintendo Chalmers

  4. proudlycanadian - Jun 27, 2012 at 8:14 PM

    Howard begins a stint in the minors tomorrow.

  5. joebuckiscreepy - Jun 27, 2012 at 8:18 PM

    Dear Chase, I feel like I can call you “Chase” because you and me are so much alike. I would love to meet you some day. It would be great to have a catch. I know I can’t throw as fast as you, but I think you would be impressed with my speed. I love your hair. You run fast. Did you have a good relationship with your father? Me neither. These are all things we can talk about and more. I know you have not been getting my letters because I know you would write back if you did. And I hope you write back this time and we get to be good friends. I am sure our relationship would be a real home run.

    • Drew Silva - Jun 27, 2012 at 8:21 PM

      How dare a person thumbs that down. Top 5 episode. Probably Top 3.

      • proudlycanadian - Jun 27, 2012 at 9:25 PM

        It was easy Drew. I do not know what was being quoted, but like most Canadians, I have read too much about a gruesome murder case recently in Montreal involving dismemberment and possible cannibalism. With that in mind, I see zero humour in the post.

      • Drew Silva - Jun 27, 2012 at 10:05 PM

        Being Canadian is no excuse for having not seen Always Sunny.

      • proudlycanadian - Jun 27, 2012 at 10:20 PM

        Never heard of it. And the quote wan definitely not funny. It was totally warped.

      • Drew Silva - Jun 27, 2012 at 10:26 PM

        It might not be funny to you out of context, but I’ll just leave this here:

      • proudlycanadian - Jun 27, 2012 at 10:39 PM

        OK. You did ask how anyone could thumbs down that, so I told you why I did. It is just too creepy within the context of a murder that I have read a lot about.

      • Drew Silva - Jun 27, 2012 at 10:45 PM

        That’s fine. I was just having some fun.

      • binkin21 - Jun 28, 2012 at 2:12 AM

        Most definitely a top 3 episode, on par with the D.E.N.N.I.S. system and when they crashed Dee’s car into the wall. Priceless

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jun 28, 2012 at 2:27 AM

        Proudly, Drew’s right, being Canadian is no excuse. And if you think that quote was totally warped you’d be right. That’s what Always Sunny is all about.

    • joebuckiscreepy - Jun 28, 2012 at 10:43 AM

      maybe if i was able to add stickers to the love letter to chase utley, it wouldn’t have reminded (for some unknown reason) anyone of a murder in canada. my bad.

      hardballtalk should consider allowing users to add stickers to the comments.

      • Drew Silva - Jun 28, 2012 at 1:56 PM


  6. biffnasty - Jun 27, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    Thought it was always sunny. It is def not a top 3 episode. That show has sucked since the end if season 4, 5 if ur in a generous mood. except for the classic lethal weapon 5 but that wasn’t til season 6.

    • Drew Silva - Jun 27, 2012 at 8:49 PM

      We’ll have to disagree. I think they’re still making great episodes.

  7. ramblingphilliesfan - Jun 27, 2012 at 10:44 PM

    Great debut for Utley. Bullpen’s a disgrace. Pretty much sums it up.

  8. aceshigh11 - Jun 27, 2012 at 11:57 PM

    Awesome…Utley is a good dude.

    I was legitimately worried that his major league career was over, simply because knee injuries are incredibly tenacious and tricky to get over, particularly for a sport where running is so important.

    Good to have him back in the game.

  9. randygnyc - Jun 28, 2012 at 1:56 AM

    Utleys presence is important for baseball and transcends the phillies. I am plenty skeptical about having a long term recovery from a degenerative knee joint disease. But I think each team needs to have alt least one all around player that achieves over expectations and leagues standards of greatness. I hope his recovery goes well and that in 2 months has the mobility and is pain free enough to keep him in the lineup.

  10. hasbeen5 - Jun 28, 2012 at 8:43 AM

    Baseball fan in me: Great news, glad he’s back.

    Braves fan in me: Shit.

  11. Jennie Oemig - Jun 28, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    I know that Buster Posey and Yadier Molina are both deserving, but it’s terrible that Chooch is going to get snubbed in All-Star voting!

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