FOND FAREWELL

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By MIKE DIGIOVANNA mike.digiovanna@latimes.com Twit­ter: @MikeDiGio­vanna

With many team­mates in at­ten­dance, Chase Ut­ley said Fri­day that he will re­tire at the end of the sea­son.

The grav­i­ta­tional pull of his two young sons was too strong to ig­nore any longer. It’s time for Chase Ut­ley to come home.

The 39-year-old se­cond base­man, whose gritty play and vet­eran lead­er­ship have played an in­te­gral role in the Dodgers’ suc­cess since the sum­mer of 2015, an­nounced Fri­day that he will re­tire at the end of this sea­son.

“I came over here and tran­si­tioned to a part-time player — it was new to me, but I took it in stride and re­ally en­joyed it,” Ut­ley, the for­mer Philadel­phia Phillies star, said at a Dodger Sta­dium news con­fer­ence packed with team­mates, coaches, front-of­fice ex­ec­u­tives and me­dia mem­bers.

“I’m also a part-time strength coach, a part-time pitch­ing coach, oc­ca­sion­ally a part-time catch­ing coach as well as a part-time gen­eral man­ager. But the thing I’m hav­ing the most dif­fi­cult time with is be­ing a part­time dad. That’s re­ally the rea­son why I’m shut­ting it down, be­cause I’m ready to be a full-time dad.”

Ut­ley and his wife, Jen­nifer, have two sons, Ben , 6, and Max, 3. As the six-time All-Star’s role was re­duced from starter in 2016 to pla­toon player in 2017 to part­time starter and pinch-hit­ter this sea­son, the emo­tional tug of his boys grew.

As Ut­ley con­tem­plated re­tire­ment, he knew he did not want to make a pre­sea­son an­nounce­ment or go on any farewell tours. “That’s not re­ally my style,” he said. Nor did he want to “ride off into the sun­set,” as he said.

He de­cided this last week to an­nounce his in­ten­tions be­fore the All-Star break.

“I’ve played for some amaz­ing coaches, some un­be­liev­able man­agers, frontof­fice staffs that want to win,” Ut­ley said. “I feel like I owe it to them to let them know what’s on my mind. I’m go­ing into the last chap­ter of my base­ball ca­reer with en­thu­si­asm, ex­cite­ment and a clear mind, which is im­por­tant.”

Ut­ley, ar­guably the game’s best se­cond base­man dur­ing the bulk of his ca­reer, has a life­time .276 av­er­age and .825 on-base-plus-slug­ging per­cent­age with 259 home runs and 1,025 RBIs.

Dur­ing a stretch from 2005 to 2014 in Philadel­phia, Ut­ley hit .288 with an .866 OPS, 213 homers, 313 doubles and 808 RBIs and ac­cu­mu­lated a Base­ball Ref­er­ence wins above re­place­ment of 59.6, the se­cond-best mark among po­si­tion play­ers be­hind Al­bert Pu­jols (67.6).

The for­mer Long Beach Poly High star has been hit by 201 pitches, sev­enth-most in history and a tes­ta­ment to his will­ing­ness to ab­sorb pain for the good of the team.

“For me,” said An­drew Fried­man, pres­i­dent of base­ball op­er­a­tions, “this is a no-brainer Hall of Famer.”

Ut­ley teamed with short­stop Jimmy Rollins to lead the Phillies to the World Series ti­tle in 2008, a sea­son in which Ut­ley hit .292 with 33 homers and 104 RBIs. Ut­ley had five homers and eight RBIs in a 2009 World Series loss to the New York Yan­kees.

The Dodgers will play three games at Philadel­phia start­ing July 23, which was a fac­tor in the tim­ing of Ut­ley’s de­ci­sion.

“There are a lot of dif­fer­ent tools that help guys per­form at this level, and one of those is con­fi­dence,” Ut­ley said. “Philadel­phia fans re­ally brought that con­fi­dence out in me. If I was 0 for 4 or four for four, they were al­ways cheer­ing for me, al­ways sup­port­ing me, and that re­ally helped me be­come a bet­ter player.”

The Dodgers ac­quired Ut­ley on Aug. 19, 2015. Though he hit .202 in the final 34 games, he made his pres­ence felt in Game 2 of the Na­tional League di­vi­sion series with a vi­cious late slide that broke the leg of New York Mets short­stop Ruben Te­jada.

Ut­ley hit .252 with a .716 OPS in 138 games in 2016 and .236 with a .728 OPS in 127 games in 2017.

Af­ter sign­ing a two-year, $2-million deal, he has played in 57 games, 30 starts, this sea­son, los­ing play­ing time to Max Muncy and En­rique Her­nan­dez .He was bat­ting .231 with one homer and 14 RBIs en­ter­ing Fri­day.

“For like 10 years, he was pretty much the best player in base­ball,” Her­nan­dez said. “I’m just su­per for­tu­nate to have been able to call him my team­mate for 31⁄2 years.”

Tweaked Turner

Third base­man Justin Turner, who tweaked his groin area Thurs­day, did not start Fri­day. Man­ager Dave Roberts said he was avail­able to pinch-hit, Turner might not start he final two games be­fore the All-Star break.

“He’s day-to-day,” Roberts said, “but I’m not go­ing to put him in any po­si­tion to make it worse.”

Short hops

The Dodgers switched their ro­ta­tion for the week­end. Alex Wood will start Satur­day in place of Rich Hill, and Clay­ton Kershaw will pitch Sun­day. Hill will be avail­able out of the bullpen. … Re­liever Pat Ven­ditte was op­tioned to triple A to clear a spot for Fri­day starter Walker Buehler .… Julio Urias, re­cov­er­ing from shoul­der surgery, touched 92 mph while throw­ing to hit­ters in Ari­zona this week. “I’m not sure what the next step is,” Roberts said, “but he’s pro­gress­ing quickly, which is great.”

Jae C. Hong As­so­ci­ated Press

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