Utley doubles in All-Star Game, pays Jeter tribute

Utley doubles in All-Star Game, pays Jeter tribute
July 16, 2014, 1:30 am
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Chase Utley had a double and was hit by a pitch playing in his first All-Star Game since 2009. (USA Today Images)

MINNEAPOLIS -- Chase Utley had an up-close view of Derek Jeter’s final All-Star Game on Tuesday night.

The Phillies’ second baseman came away with a memory that will never fade.

“You get chills,” Utley said after Jeter’s American League squad beat Utley’s National League team, 5-3, in the 85th All-Star Game (see story). “It’s a little surreal.”

Jeter, 40, was saluted by the big crowd before his first at-bat and again when he exited the game in the fourth inning.

“He deserved that,” Utley said. “I think we all know how much he’s meant to the game of baseball. He’s going to be missed next year.”

Utley was able to pay personal tribute to Jeter during the game. Jeter doubled in the first inning and singled and moved to second on a wild pitch in the third. Both times, Utley spoke to the Yankee great as he stood on second base.

“I just told him how much I admired him and that he’s been a good role model for a lot of guys,” Utley said. “Derek has done some amazing things on the baseball field for a long time, especially playing a demanding position like shortstop. He’s one of a kind."

Utley started at second base for the National League for the fifth time. It was his first trip to the All-Star Game since 2009. He was voted a starter in 2010, but was injured. More injuries cost him consideration in 2011 and 2012.

Utley didn’t just return to the All-Star Game. He made a difference for the NL. He smoked an RBI double high off the rightfield wall in the second inning and was hit by a pitch (pinch-runner Dee Gordon eventually scored) in the fourth.

“Obviously, 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.”

Utley’s double came on a 2-2 pitch against Boston’s Jon Lester. If the game had been played in Citizens Bank Park, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium or Dodger Stadium, it would have been a home run. Utley leaned on it pretty good.

Utley had been just 1 for 9 in his career against Lester.

There was some irony in Utley’s double. He has not hit a double in regular season play in over a month -- since June 7. That’s a span of 35 games without a double. In that time, he has four homers, 17 RBIs and a .248 batting average.

“I was just up there trying to battle and I connected on one,” he said of his at-bat against Lester.

Utley was the only Phillie to make the NL team.

The Phillies resume play Friday in Atlanta.

Looking for Phillies tickets? Buy them through the Wanamaker Entertainment Group.

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