Sandberg sees a lot of himself in Utley

Ryne Sandberg said that Chase Utley "fits right into the mold that I played in." (Yong Kim/Staff Photos)

 The Phillies have one of the top second baseman to ever play the game in spring training, and I'm not talking about Chase Utley.

Ryne Sandberg, who will manage Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season, is here in major league camp offering instruction and helping run drills.

Not surprisingly, Sandberg sought out Utley to talk about life as an elite second baseman.

Here is how Utley compares to Sandberg when Sandberg was 32 years old:

Sandberg at 32

Seasons: 10+
Plate App.: 6,744
Batting Avg.: .288
On Base Per.: .346
Slugging Per.: .455
OPS: .801
HR: 205
RBI: 749
Runs: 976
Stolen Bases: 297/381
WAR: 46.9

Utley at 32

Seasons: 7+
Plate App.: 4,324
Batting Avg.: .293
On Base Per.: .380
Slugging Per.: .514
OPS: .894
HR: 177
RBI: 650
RS: 677
Stolen Bases: 96/109
WAR: 38.7

Sandberg had one of his most productive seasons at the age of 32 (Utley turned 32 in December). The Cubs legend hit .304 with an .881 OPS, 26 home runs, 87 RBI and 100 runs scored in 1992. He played five full seasons after the age of 31.

I caught up with Sandberg this afternoon to get his thoughts Utley. The two have talked primarily about what it takes to make it through an entire big league season as a second baseman.

"He fits right into the mold that I played in. I've been impressed with that from a distance. I just wanted to meet him," Sandberg said. "I shared some information about playing a full season, and this being a marathon out here once the season does start. Just kind of compared notes on how I approached that and how he approaches that. Just had a good conversation. But all in all, I also let him know that I'd be around and that I was looking forward to chatting with him, just talking baseball."

Sandberg said he was impressed with Utley's work ethic and preparation.

"I think the secret is finding what works for the individual player," he said. "He seems to have a really good pre-game ritual that allows him to really cover everything that he feels he has to cover in pre-game. When he does it the right way, and pretty close to game situation, and you do that before the game even starts, then you just go out and enjoy the game, and just play the game. Have fun with it."

More in tomorrow's Daily News.

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