For the sixth time in his career, Chase Utley will be taking part in the MLB All-Star Game, starting at second base for the NL. His is the only representative from the Philadelphia Phillies to take part this year, as most of the team has been experiencing what can only be called an up-and-down season.
The fact that Utley was selected to play in the All-Star game at all can be considered an accomplishment after the last two seasons he has endured, with chronic knee issues that could have ended his career. Instead, he came back this season with a new fire, batting .293 on the season so far with eight home runs and 46 RBIs. Plus, his defensive play at second base has been exemplary, which is a big part of the reason why he was selected to his sixth All-Star team.
Yet among all that joy, there is still a cloud hanging over the proceedings. Utley is one of the very few Phillies that is worth anything to Ruben Amaro Jr. as the trade deadline continues to get closer and closer. Some fans have said that Utley should waive his full no-trade rights and allow the Phillies to deal him for the betterment of the team. Others have called him “crazy” for wanting to stay with a losing franchise. Of course, that came from Jonathan Papelbon, so take it for what you will.
For his part, Utley has made it perfectly clear he would like to stay in Phillies’ pinstripes. When asked about it he said…
“I haven’t ever envisioned leaving Philadelphia, honestly. I feel like I’m wanted in Philly. I feel like the fans appreciate the way I play. I feel like the front office appreciates the way I play. And I appreciate their support over the years. I don’t plan on going anywhere. But, again, if someone comes up to me and says, ‘You’re no longer wanted in Philly,’ then I’ll have to change my tune.”
Even though trading Utley would no doubt improve the team in the long run, and could be a key to making the rebuild in which the Phillies are going through a short one, you have to respect a player who plays as hard as he does for a city that demands so much of their pro athletes; the Phillies and their fans should be celebrating that this week, not talking about trades, contracts and rebuilding. Celebrate a player who has given his all to Philadelphia, the Phillies and the sport of baseball.
Let Utley enjoy the All-Star Game. I think the rest can wait for a few days.