In final year of contract, Utley wants to stay in Philly
Veteran second baseman enjoying productive year, says he's over knee issues
PHILADELPHIA -- Ruben Amaro Jr. has said a few times recently he pictures Chase Utley as a "Phillie for life."
Nothing can be assumed or assured based on those three words. Anything can happen in the coming weeks and months, but the Phillies general manager's sentiment is an indication of how high the organization holds Utley, who is the heart and soul of the Phillies' clubhouse.
Utley entered Sunday's series finale against the White Sox hitting .272 with 15 doubles, three triples, 11 home runs and 30 RBIs in 246 plate appearances. His .492 slugging percentage is his best mark since a .508 mark in 2009.
Utley, who becomes a free agent following the season, sounds like a man who would like to remain in Philadelphia beyond this year.
"I've never envisioned wearing another team's uniform," he told MLB.com. "And I know there's a lot of speculation, but I still haven't … that still hasn't changed over the last month. I've talked to Ruben. I've told him what I think about the organization and city of Philly. That's kind of where we're at."
The speculation surrounds Utley's short-term future with the July 31 Trade Deadline fast approaching. Teams have been calling about Utley, but the the Phils' recent resurgence has Amaro saying publicly he plans on buying before the Deadline.
That would mean Utley is sticking around.
If Utley remains in red pinstripes through the end of the season, both sides still will have decisions to make. Do the Phillies feel comfortable enough with Utley's health history -- he missed much of the previous two seasons because of chronically injured knees -- that they would like to recommit to him? And does Utley think the Phillies have enough going for them that he thinks they can win another World Series?
"The last month or so, I feel like we've played some pretty good baseball," Utley said. "On the road trip, we didn't win as many games as we would have liked, but … there was still good baseball being played. We had a chance to win. We had a chance to win the majority of them. Yeah, obviously winning is an important part of what I want to do with my future. But I think there definitely are some pieces in this room that can win."
Amaro said last week he might reach out to Utley's agent to talk about an extension. Utley said he is not opposed to talking.
"I think we have a good relationship," he said. "We understand each other. Whatever is best is best, if that makes sense."
Utley spent a month this season on the disabled list because of a strained oblique, but that is likely more of a freak injury than anything else. He otherwise has been healthy and productive at the plate, which is encouraging.
It has Utley feeling optimistic about the future.
"I'd like to play as long as I'm able to play and be productive," he said. "And the way I feel now, I feel like there's definitely some years there. Obviously 2011-12 weren't ideal, but I think I've kind of overcome my knee issues. I understand how to deal with them, and I think that's showed."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.