For nine seasons, Kenley Jansen has been a part of Los Angeles Dodgers pitching staffs that were led by Clayton Kershaw and featured Zack Greinke, Hiroki Kuroda, Josh Beckett and Rich Hill, among others.
But some of the most helpful tips he’s received have come from an iconic former Phillies second baseman.
If you question the impact Chase Utley has made on the Dodgers in the waning years of his career, spend a few minutes with Jansen. The all-star closer said last week that Utley, who will retire at season’s end, has helped the pitchers with nuances of the game, including realizing when they might be tipping pitches or if they need to change their signs with the catcher.
“You’re talking about a guy that, when things were not going his way offensively, he became a role player,” Jansen said. “When the game is over, he’s always the last guy [to leave]. He’s in the video room to see if guys are stealing signs from us, see what we’re doing, see if we’re tipping. It’s kind of crazy to see. Even on the pitching side, he really cares about us.”
Former Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels describes Utley as “the ultimate baseball player,” and similar tributes will undoubtedly be offered this week when he makes his final regular-season visit to Citizens Bank Park.
“I don’t know if the young guys coming up and the guys that are in the game right now understand the significance of who he is and how he plays the game,” Hamels said. “He truly does it the right way. That’s how you would want somebody to be a professional baseball player. He goes about it the right way.”
Utley’s intensity and preparation were always his calling cards, even at the peak of his career with the Phillies. He was named an all-star five times and had three top-10 NL MVP finishes from 2005 through 2010, but he also would often get dressed in his full uniform hours before the game when most of his teammates were still taking batting practice in T-shirts.
It’s unclear how much Utley will play this week. He’s batting only .243 with one homer and a .666 OPS and has started only two games this month. Logan Forsythe, Enrique Hernandez and, lately, Max Muncy are seeing see more time at second base than Utley.
But there’s a reason the Dodgers have brought him back on one-year contracts in each of the past three offseasons.
“I remember in the playoffs last year, he was always constantly talking to me about signs, trying to make our signs better,” Jansen said. “He’s always aware of stuff that sometimes we’re not aware of. We’re going to miss him, man.”
Phillies reliever Edubray Ramos left in the sixth inning of the opener of Sunday’s doubleheader and was diagnosed with a strained patella tendon in his left knee. He will undergo an MRI exam Monday, at which point the team will know more about the severity of the injury.
“It happened the very last pitch when I landed on my left leg,” Ramos said through a team translator. “I felt that sharp pain in the knee. It was weird.”
Ramos has a 1.91 ERA, 33 strikeouts and 13 walks in 33 innings over 39 appearances this season and has been one of the Phillies’ most reliable relievers.
With the trade deadline approaching, the Phillies have considered several relievers, notably Baltimore Orioles lefthander Zach Britton. They could also pursue Padres relievers Craig Stammen or Kirby Yates.
The Phillies reinstated righthander Luis Garcia from the DL before Sunday’s nightcap. He had been sidelined since June 13 because of a strained right wrist. The Phillies elected to keep him out through the all-star break to give him additional time to reincorporate his splitter with his fastball and slider.
Righthander Yacksel Rios was recalled from triple-A Lehigh Valley to serve as the 26th player for the doubleheader finale. … The Phillies will have to make a roster move Monday to activate righthander Zach Eflin (blister) from the disabled list. Eflin is slated to start the series opener against the Dodgers.