It is too early to compare him as a baseball player, but Cody Asche’s approach to the game seems to mirror that of Chase Utley.
Nobody in the Phillies clubhouse is respected more than Utley, a player whose game preparation is legendary and somebody who never attempts to call attention to himself.
Utley is all about business, playing with humility and tenacity and the 23-year-old Asche is seemingly on the same path.
After Asche hit a two-run homer and made as sensational bare-handed defensive play to throw out B.J. Upton in the ninth inning of Friday’s 2-1 win over the visiting Atlanta Braves, interim manager Ryne Sandberg was raving about his third baseman’s approach to the game.
“He is one of the first guys here,” Sandberg said about Asche. “He learns from the guys here, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, they talk the game in the dugout, help him with positioning and other things.”
Asche is soft-spoken, like Utley, but he’s not afraid to seek the advice of the Phillies veterans.
“I am pretty fortunate to be able to watch Jimmy and Chase at the top of the lineup every day so you know usually I get a good look and have (Domonic) Brownie in there too,” said Asche, now hitting .287 with four home runs and 19 RBIs. “So I get to watch those guys with real experience and see how they approach a guy and I can tailor my own approach based on what they are doing and what I saw.”
It’s not what he sees, but the advice he seeks and Utley and Rollins are more than happy to share their knowledge.
Asche joined the Phillies on July 30 and his confidence has been growing ever since. Even when he began 1 for 17, Asche was saying back then he wouldn’t use being a rookie as an excuse and that it was time for him to contribute.
And after that slow start he has taken off and his his teammates have marveled at the rapid improvement.
“I think early on you could tell he was a little nervous and unsure and kind of feeling it out and of late you can sense he has gotten more comfortable and his skills are showing,” said Friday’s winning pitcher Cliff Lee. “Defensively he has made some unbelievable plays and he has gotten some big this for us and I expect him to be a huge part of our team in the future.”
When asked, Asche says he is not surprised at what he has done. Like Utley, it wasn’t said in a boastful manner but he was just honestly answering a question.
He expects a lot of himself and immerses himself into preparing each day, just like his second base teammate and role model.