A few days ago, Chase Utley approached Ruben Amaro Jr. and asked the Phillies general manager whether he thought playing some third base in the future was realistic.
Amaro's response? I don't know, which pretty much mirrors Utley's mindset on the matter. But both sides are open to exploring the possibility. In fact, Utley fielded groundballs today at third base and says he plans on doing it again.
"I thought it could be an option in the future," Utley said. "It's way too early to have an opinion either way on how it's going to go. But I'm going to take some more groundballs there in the future. But who knows what the future has in store."
There are several issues that could be addressed by a move to third. First and foremost is giving the Phillies an option to plug in at the position, which features no near-major-league-ready players in the system and few attractive options on the free agent market. If Utley were able to play third, it could allow the Phillies to pursue a second baseman, although the options there are slim (Blue Jays slugger Kelly Johnson, who has hit .221 with a .696 OPS over the last two seasons, is one potential free agent).
"I think if I'm able to play over there it could create some more flexibility as far as the organization is concerned," Utley said. "It may not. It's just something I wanted to give a try."
The other issue is Utley's knees, which cost him the first three months of this season and the first two months of last season. Third base requires less pivoting and therefore could theoretically be easier on his knees.
"I don't know," Utley said. "Today was the first time I took groundballs over there in 10 years. It seemed to go alright, but those are questions I really can't answer."
The big question is whether Utley has the arm to play third. That won't be answered anytime soon. But both sides seem interested in finding out.