Former MLB pitcher on Chase Utley: ‘If I could hit him every time, I would'

By , Audacy Sports

If you were a Phillies fan, you loved everything about Chase Utley and what he brought to the table, both in his baseball production and his tough, no-nonsense personality. But if you weren’t a Phillies fan, watching Utley play against your team of choice, it’s safe to say that you didn’t like him all that much. If you’re a Mets fan and you don’t hate Chase Utley, there’s something wrong.

As it turns out, some of his opponents felt the same way. Longtime relief pitcher Jeremy Affeldt, who spent the bulk of his career as a San Francisco Giant from 2009 to 2015, happens to be one of those players, and he joined Hunter Pence and Grant Brisbee on “The Baseball Barista” podcast to reveal his dislike for Utley.

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“...I don’t like Utley. Never have, never probably will. So if I could hit him every time, I would, to be honest with you,” Affeldt said. “He was a great competitor and I probably would love him on my team, but… I just didn’t really like the guy.”

In one occasion, though, Affeldt thanked Utley for behavior that otherwise would have bothered the lefty reliever. In Game 6 of the 2010 NLCS between San Francisco and Philly, one which would ultimately decide the series and send the Giants to their first of three World Series victories of the 2010s, Affeldt was suddenly called into the game to replace Jonathan Sanchez. He had only thrown a few warmup pitches, as he recalls, and had to come in without much forewarning given Sanchez’s wild outing.

Thanks to Utley, though, who had just been hit by a Sanchez pitch, Affeldt had some extra time for throwing. Utley flipped the ball back to the pitcher and exchanged some words with him, which led to a benches-clearing disruption on the field.

“I knew he was being Utley, and he caused it, which helped me. I think I called him the MVP of that series because it allowed me to have time to warm up by him causing a ruckus,” Affeldt explained.

Affeldt would go on to shut down Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino in order, and did the same with Raul Ibanez, Carlos Ruiz and Roy Oswalt in the next frame. Carlos Murillo wrote about the moment in its entirety for FanSided’s Golden Gate Sports:

Imagine if Utley hadn’t thrown the ball back at Sanchez. He surely would have faced at least one or two more batters before Affleldt — or any other reliever — who would have been warmed up enough to come into the game. Sanchez couldn’t find the strike zone and was starting to let the emotions of the moment get the best of him, as he so often did.

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The two would meet again in a 2011 showdown, one in which Affeldt was called into the game to replace Ramon Ramirez. Ramirez had just drilled Shane Victorino with a pitch, leading to yet another benches-clearing fight, and the bases were loaded when Affeldt came in to face the Phils’ fiery second baseman.

“...I warmed up, came running in, and then the umpires gave us warnings. And I’m like, whatever, there’s bases loaded, obviously I’m not gonna try and hit anybody here,” Affeldt said. “But then I threw a curveball at Utley and I hung it. Utley, he likes to get hit… I don’t like it, If he’s on my team, I probably would love it, because he causes things to happen, that’s just what he does.

“So he sticks his head out in front of the curveball and takes it on top of the helmet, and then he points at me and says, ‘You gotta throw him out,’ because of the warnings.”

Affeldt protested, and the umpire took his side in the affair, making Utley get back into the box for leaning into a pitch. But at this point, Affeldt’s anger had taken over, and he even told Philadelphia bench coach Pete Mackanin that he’d better get an Utley replacement ready: he was going to get drilled.

“...I gotta let you know, the bench coach, because I’m about to break your second baseman’s knee cap. Because I’m throwing this ball off his bad knee, and I know he has a bad one, and I’m gonna hit it,” Affeldt said. “...So I throw this sinker right at his knee, and I’ll give it to him. It was awesome. He put his bat right in front. I mean, the guy’s good — I’m not gonna say he’s not good, because he is good — he puts the bat right in front of his knee and he literally makes contact and he hits it to Belt.”

In his career, Utley was hit by a pitch 204 times in the regular season, leading the league in the stat in 2007, 2008 and 2009. That total is good for eighth all-time, and you can probably attribute it to a mix of his willingness to get plunked and pitchers’ desire to vent their frustration at Utley in the form of a fastball right to the abdomen. But in this case, with a sinker coming right at a bad kneecap and a warning that it was coming, Utley opted not to add to his historic total — and probably for the best.

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