After playing 1,574 games in the major leagues — 1,474 at second base and 32 at first (he was a pinch hitter or designated hitter in the other games) — Chase Utley is starting at third base today for the first time in his career.
“Why not?” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “The fact that (Justin Turner) is down. A righty out there [Jhoulys Chacin is starting for the Arizona Diamondbacks]. We’ve been working toward this. Wally felt like last time was his best time out there. We don’t worry about him — he knows where to play, knows where to be. That type stuff. Seemed like tonight was the right night.”
Turner had an MRI on his sore left knee Monday and is down for a “couple days,” Mattingly said. The Dodgers’ second-best option at the position, Corey Seager, is starting at shortstop. Alex Guerrero, who’s started one game at third base the past six weeks, must wait to start another.
Despite his prowess at second base, Utley’s been taking ground balls at third practically since the moment he joined the Dodgers. The last time Utley played third base in a game, he was a 23-year-old in Triple-A in 2002. His teammates included Nick Punto and P.J. Forbes, who managed the Dodgers’ Single-A affiliate last year.
Bench coach Tim Wallach, who won three Gold Glove awards at third base, has been mentoring Utley periodically before games. They did so again today; see for yourself how it went: