Utley proud to be part of Jeter's final All-Star Game

ASSOCIATED PRESS Phillies' Chase Utley, NL second baseman, knocks in a run with a double off the wall in the second inning of the All-Star Game. Utley later scored and got on base again after being hit with a pitch.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Phillies' Chase Utley, NL second baseman, knocks in a run with a double off the wall in the second inning of the All-Star Game. Utley later scored and got on base again after being hit with a pitch. (and got on base again after being hit with a pitch. He was taken out for a pinch runner who scored. The game in Minneapolis ended too late for this edition. Details online on philly.com.)
Posted: July 17, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS - When the American League's leadoff hitter came to the plate in the first inning, every National League fielder stashed his glove to take part in an extended standing ovation.

Pitcher Adam Wainwright left his glove on the mound and didn't appear to be in any rush to get it, either. The applause continued for another minute.

It was Derek Jeter's final All-Star Game, and, just as with Mariano Rivera last year, the game was going to celebrate the New York Yankees future Hall of Famer, who is retiring at season's end.

Wainwright acknowledged later he grooved a couple of pitches for Jeter in the at-bat that followed. Jeter's leadoff double began the American League's three-run, first-inning rally in a 5-3 win over the NL in the 85th annual All-Star Game.

Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, playing in his first All-Star Game in 5 years, did his part to prevent the AL from rolling over the Senior Circuit stars. Like Jeter, Utley reached base twice. He knocked in a run with a double and scored one, too.

"It's nice to contribute," Utley said. "It was fun to be out there. The electricity, the crowd, it was special. It was nice to be in an atmosphere like this. I had a good time."

And, like Jeter, Utley also exited the game after two plate appearances. But there was no fanfare for the 35-year-old second baseman when the son of one of his teammates from the 2008 world champion Phillies team came to pinch-run for him in the fourth inning.

Jeter, who finished 2-for-2, would see the game delayed for another few minutes when Boston manager John Farrell replaced the iconic AL shortstop after he took the field in the top of the fourth inning.

Jeter tipped his cap. He returned to warm greetings from his AL stars, but the standing ovation persisted. So he exited the dugout and raised his cap again.

"You get a little chills, it's a little surreal," said Utley, who stood and clapped inside the NL dugout when Jeter walked off the field. "He's been doing it a long time and he's been so successful, he's just a special person."

Utley is 4 1/2 years years younger than Jeter, against whom he squared off in the World Series five Octobers ago. But given his knee problems in the time since, Utley wasn't guaranteed last night or any potential All-Star Game trips in the next 3 or 4 years. Still, you have to assume Utley wouldn't want it any other way if last night just so happened to be his exit from the national stage, too.

When Dee Gordon, Flash Gordon's kid, came out to take his spot at first base after Utley was hit by a pitch, the NL starting second baseman bolted for the visiting dugout before anyone at the picturesque, downtown Minneapolis ballpark could take notice.

Jealous of Jeter's ovation?

"No," Utley said with a chuckle. "He deserves that, if not more. I think we all know how much he's meant to the game of baseball. He's going to be missed next year."

The two franchise icons shared a few words at second base after Jeter's leadoff double.

"I just told him how much I admired him," Utley said, "and he's been a good role model for a lot of guys."

Utley also doubled in his first at-bat, knocking in the NL's first run. In his only other plate appearance, Utley was hit by a Chris Sale 94-mph fastball.

Gordon would score the game-tying run after taking over for Utley as the NL erased a first-inning, 3-0 deficit.

But an inning later, Mike Trout, the pride of Millville, N.J., doubled down the third-base line as the AL reclaimed its lead. Seven AL pitchers, including Tabernacle, N.J., native Sean Doolittle, combined for five shutout innings to close out the game.

Trout, 2-for-3 with a double, triple and two RBI, was named the All-Star Game MVP. The 22-year-old Angels outfielder is 4-for-7 with three extra-base hits in three trips to the All-Star Game.

"I'm speechless right now," he said after choosing a Corvette Stingray as his prize, at his mother's urging. "I can't thank everyone enough for voting me in. Thanks for everything.

"It [winning the MVP] wasn't going through my head at all."

Utley, who was voted into an All-Star Game last in 2010 but hadn't played in one since 2009, had a successful if abbreviated return to the Midsummer Classic. He finished the night 1-for-1, bringing his career All-Star batting average to an even .300 (3-for-10).

Utley even came a few feet shy of his first All-Star Game home run. After Aramis Ramirez hit a one-out single to center in the second inning, Utley stepped to the batter's box to face Boston lefthander Jon Lester. Utley didn't look too comfortable when he swung badly at a fastball low and off the plate; he was 1-for-9 with three strikeouts in his career against Lester.

But after battling back, fouling off a couple of pitches in the seven-pitch at-bat, Utley got a perfect pitch and pounced. Lester left a 93-mph fastball over the outer half of the plate and Utley turned and ripped, sending the ball some 400 feet away.

The ball clanked off the top of the wall in right-center, coming an arm's length or two from finding the seats, bringing in Ramirez.

"You're just up there trying to battle," Utley said. "I saw a few pitches, took some interesting swings, but I was able to connect with one of them."

The double and RBI were his first in five All-Star Games. The double was also the first for Utley in more than a month.

After smacking 24 doubles in his first 56 games of the season, Utley hasn't hit one for the Phillies since June 7, a span of 143 plate appearances over 35 games. But since the beginning of July, Utley's stroke has returned: Following a hitless afternoon on Sunday at Citizens Bank Park, he's batting .292 (14-for-48) with two home runs in 13 games this month.

Utley will take that hot bat into Atlanta this weekend, when the Phillies resume their season with a three-game series against the Braves.


On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

Blog: ph.ly/HighCheese

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