World Series-winning Phillies reunite
WASHINGTON >> Chase Utley sat in the Los Angeles Dodgers clubhouse and watched as Cole Hamels was chased from a game 1,000 miles away. Eight years ago might as well be an eternity.
Back then Utley made the signature play on the base paths in the decisive Game 5 and Hamels was lights out as they won the World Series together with the Phillies. Not far from Utley on Thursday were two other members of that team: catcher Carlos Ruiz and pitcher Joe Blanton.
Utley, Ruiz and Blanton have been reunited with the Dodgers and face fellow 2008 World Series winner Jayson Werth of the Washington Nationals in the NL Division Series. Trades and signings have brought all four players to this point, knowing it could be their last chance to win another championship.
“We’re all in different roles, different stages of our careers,” said Blanton, the Phillies’ Game 4 starter and home run slugger in 2008 who is now a setup man. “The mindset’s still the same. ... Winning is just a matter of a bunch of things: breaks going your way, getting hot at the right time, just the way game plays out, matchups.”
From the 2008 champions, only Pat Burrell and Shane Victorino went on to get another ring.
Utley, Ruiz and Werth are all 37 years old and don’t know how many more postseason at-bats they have left. Utley is on a one-year deal, Ruiz is at the end of his contract and Werth has one season left before he could again hit unrestricted free agency.
The rare air of October isn’t lost on any of them.
“I feel like I’m real hungry,” Ruiz said. “I feel like I want to win and I want to win and do my best to help the team. Definitely at the end of my career to have another shot to go to the World Series, it’s huge. We’ll take it one game at a time the same way we did in ‘08.”
Werth, who left the Phillies after their World Series defeat in 2009 to sign a $126 million deal with the Nationals, appreciates every chance he has left.
“As you get older, you get less and less opportunities,” Werth said. “I’m not going to have too many of these chances left. You don’t want to take them for granted, but at the same time you’ve just got to play baseball.”
Washington left fielder Jayson Werth misses a two-run home run by the Dodgers’ Justin Turner during the third inning of Game 1.