Chase Utley Has Returned

The Phillies may have lost a tough one on Wednesday night, but the outcome of the game paled in comparison to what happened about 14 minutes after the first pitch of the game, when Chase Utley stepped in the batter's box of a Major League game for the first time since October.

The veteran has been on the shelf for the entire season thanks to his nagging knee injuries, and it's not an exaggeration to suggest that the Phillies desperately missed his production in the lineup and on the field.

He made his presence felt almost immediately, when, after receiving a standing ovation from a raucous crowd, he deposited a 2-2 pitch deep into the bleachers in right-center field, in a moment that had to be seen to be believed.

In his second at-bat, Utley nearly went yard again, but came up just a few feet shy, as his long out was pulled in by center fielder Andrew McCutchen on the warning track.

He notched an infield single in the sixth, and managed a third hit in the seventh, when he sent a seeing eye single into right field. All told, he went 3-for-5 on the night with a homer, a deep fly out and a pair of singles.

Utley didn't limit himself in the field, either. In the top of the second, Utley made a leaping grab to snare a throw from Carlos Ruiz, before chasing down the would-be base stealer when he retreated to first base.

All in all, Chase looked pretty darn good. His swing looked every bit like it used to, and if you didn't know that he had a pair of knee injuries, you wouldn't have know that he missed the first half of the season with a possible career-threatening ailment.

It was a great debut for Utley, who will add some much needed pop and patience in the middle of a lineup that is lacking both. And while there is a ways to go before we can properly evaluate Chase, all signs seem to indicate that the guy who was the best player on the team for the better part of the last six seasons has returned.

If only for one night.

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