PHOENIX — There is a locker without a nameplate in the Dodgers clubhouse, the first one to the left at the back entrance at Camelback Ranch. It was Chase Utley‘s locker last season and all signs seem to indicate that locker will belong to Utley in 2018 as well.
Utley hasn’t officially re-joined the Dodgers just yet, but it is probably only a matter of time. Though there wasn’t a nameplate above said locker, there were a few gloves and some cleats in the stall, plus several boxes addressed to — you’re not going to believe this — Chase Utley.
“They’re not hiding it,” joked Clayton Kershaw.
Nothing is official with Utley’s return though he has reportedly agreed to terms on a one-year deal per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.
“Apparently he’s coming, I don’t know. I hope he makes it in,” Kershaw said. “Everybody knows the rumors, but we know as much as you do. I’m assuming we’ll see him at some point.”
Manager Dave Roberts was similarly coy about Utley’s return.
“We’re hopeful. We’re excited to hopefully get him here in Glendale. Chase is great,” Roberts said. “I’ll talk more about him maybe in the coming days
Utley hit .236/.324/.405 with the Dodgers last season and started 81 games, including 68 at second base. He turned 39 in December and stats aside is universally adored in the Dodgers organization.
“At this point everybody kind of understands it. You probably understand it more so when you’re in a locker room with him every day or you’re watching how he goes about it,” Kershaw explained. “He might not be the player he was 10 years ago, but he’s still a very valuable asset to have. I don’t think there’s a guy in here who wouldn’t be excited if he was around.”
Position players report to Dodgers camp on Saturday.