In an article published on Monday, Peter Gammons provided some interesting anecdotes about second baseman Chase Utley, who recently returned to the Dodgers on a one-year, $2 million deal.
Phillies fans are very familiar with Utley’s personality and Dodgers fans have been getting acclimated with him over the last year and a half. He’s all business on the field and willing to put his own health at risk to make a play or to send a message.
Anecdote No. 1:
Coaches tell the story of a game in which the Dodgers had a big lead in the top of the eighth inning when one younger, enthusiastic teammate stole second base, which ticked off the opposition. When Utley got to the plate in the ninth, he told the opposing catcher to have the pitcher drill him. Then his teammate would understand there are consequences for showing up the opposition.
This isn’t surprising. Utley led the majors in HBP three seasons in a row from 2007-09 and his career total of 190 HBP is by far the most among active players. It ranks 10th all-time.
Utley also understands the politics of baseball, so he went to great lengths to not show up the home plate umpire in a game last season.
Anecdote No. 2:
Then there was a game last year in which Kershaw wasn’t getting strikes he thought he’d thrown. When the Dodgers got back to the dugout, A.J. Ellis was hollering at the home plate umpire. Utley warned Ellis not to get ejected. Chase grabbed a batboy’s skull cap,a jacket, got a towel and rounded up a bunch of fresh baseballs and went out to give the umpires the balls, which is the batboy’s job. When the umpire asked him what he was doing, Utley told him he was not going to embarrass the ump, that no one would notice he was out there, but Kershaw had to have some of those pitches. Having spoken his peace, Utley ran back to the dugout like just another clubbie batboy.
In a perfect world, an umpire is mature enough to take criticism and not hold it against that player’s team, but we don’t live in that perfect world. Utley understands this and found a way to say his piece in a way that almost certainly wouldn’t negatively impact his team.
[Cap tip: Matt Mullin of PhillyVoice]
At the end of January, the Nationals signed relievers Joe Nathan and Matt Albers. Today the Nationals have released Joe Nathan and Matt Albers.
Nathan, 42, pitched in just ten games last year, totaling only six and a third innings, between the Giants and the Cubs. He missed the entire 2015 season except for one third of an inning on Opening Day. Albers pitched in 58 games for the White Sox last year, posting an unsightly 6.31 ERA He pitched wonderfully in 30 games in 2015 however.
This spring Nathan and Albers pitched in more games than any other Nats relievers. Twelve for Nathan, ten for Albers. And they pitched well, with Nathan giving up five earned runs and Albers none. Apparently, however, there just isn’t room on the roster for those two.
This could be the end of the line for Nathan, a 16-year veteran with 377 career saves.
The substance of the report is not shocking. Francisco Lindor is one of baseball’s brightest young stars and the Cleveland Indians would, no doubt, wish to lock him up for an extended period of time. The surprising part is the guy who reported that, yes, the Indians are working to get Lindor a seven-year extension.
That guy: six-year-old Brody Chernoff, son of Indians general manager Mike Chernoff. Brody was invited into the team’s broadcast booth during the ninth inning of their game against the Chicago White Sox. Indians announcer Tom Hamilton asked, no doubt jokingly, if his working on anything interesting. Brody:
“He’s trying to get, um, Lindor to play for seven more years,”
Again, not shocking. It would’ve been way worse if Brody had said “Dad’s working on a three-way deal that’ll send Naquin to an NL team in order to affect a three-way trade that’ll land us Verlander without having to deal directly with a divisional rival.” But I imagine Dad still would’ve preferred he not mention that.