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At least in 2013, Chase Utley seemed to put the knee issues behind him
Nobody expected Chase Utley to play in 130 games this year, but it can happen.
What can you say about Utley, or rather, what can't you say? The guy is a baseball player, a battler, a grinder, and a 'heads in the game, cleats on the ground, eye on the ball' type of guy that any team would be lucky to have.
The 2013 season began with Utley, who hadn't played a single preseason inning since the spring of 2010, out on the field taking ground balls and batting practice. For fans at the time, it might not have seemed like much, but for Utley, this was a small victory en route to an even greater reward.
Utley took the field on Opening Day and went 3-for-5 with a HR, triple, three RBI and two runs scored. He didn't appear hampered by the knees that have caused him problems in the past, and he didn't seem timid either. He was back to being the Utley of old, even if just for one day.
But it lasted much more than one day.
For the first time since 2009, Utley has played in 120+ games and could, if he plays every day for the rest of the season, finish 2013 with 132 games played. And considering his time on the DL was for an oblique injury unrelated to the knees, this is the best anybody could have hoped for.
Utley's durability isn't the only thing that may have surprised fans this year. The 34-year-old second baseman has also recorded 47 XBH (17 of which are HR), has scored 67 runs and 62 RBI and is batting .276; again, all numbers which are his highest since 2009.
Utley may be years removed from his prime and from 100 RBI/100 R seasons, but he is not that far off from being able to hit 20 HR and get 80 RBI/80 R. The key for him, as it has been, is just staying healthy and staying on the field. Because as surprised fans learned this year, when he does, he is still one the best second basemen in the game.