By Jon Weisman
In the wake of tonight’s acquisition of Chase Utley, Dodger general manager Farhan Zaidi spoke on a conference call with reporters. Here are some selected quotes …
- “We traded for a guy who is a guy we in the front office have been a fan of for a long time, and there’s clearly a short-term need for us at the position with Howie (Kendrick) out. (Utley’s) availability synced up well with our needs.”
- The timeline on Kendrick hasn’t changed, “but three weeks is a long time in a pennant race.” Zaidi spoke with Kendrick and his representation about the deal.
- “I think we’re hopeful that at the beginning of September or early September (Kendrick) can go out on a rehab assignment. He might be a little ahead of that or a little behind that.”
- “We’re not going to worry about (what happens to Utley when Kendrick returns) until it happens. With the injuries we’ve had, our depth chart could look different in a few weeks anyway.”
- Utley has worked out at third base with the Phillies.
- On why they targeted Utley: “It’s everything. Beyond the numbers, he’s always been a very good defensive second baseman … he’s shown that range (since he came back from the disabled list). His quality of at-bats has been near the top of the league. We made it a point to stack our lineup with players who have quality at-bats. He’s always hit well at Dodger Stadium.
- “As far as the clubhouse goes, his reputation is as strong as anybody’s and deservedly so.”
- On how Kiké Hernandez’s playing time will be affected: “We always saw him as a guy who would get a lot of at-bats moving around the field. He’ll continue to get time at second base, but he’ll move around the infield and outfield as well. He’s been terrific (lately) … and we’re going to run our best eight-nine guys out there each night.”
- On Jimmy Rollins’ view of the trade: “As well as those guys know each other, there were so many checkmarks in Chase’s favor that Jimmy’s signoff was almost academic.”
- “He’s making consistently hard contact. … We think he’s gotten over some of the health issues he’s gone through earlier, and when he’s healthy he’s one of the best hitters in the game.”
- On trading Darnell Sweeney and John Richy: “It’s reflective of timing a little bit. There were other teams involved. The Phillies were looking at young talent. We needed to be competitive with where the market was going if we wanted to get this player.”
- On improving the bullpen: “This move is obviously not (preventing us) from adding in the pen or frankly anywhere else on the roster. … Anything we think will improve the team, we’ll continue to pursue.”
- “It’s been a rough stretch. Bullpen’s in general are part of the team where performance tends to be the most volatile. The thing with us is every guy in our bullpen has had a track record and stretches this year where they’ve been really good. Part of it is a few of our guys hitting speed bumps at the same time. … We have to find ways to get the most out of their ability, whether looking at their mix of pitches, sequences, getting them in the right matchups, which I actually think we have done. But there’s a track record and an ability record with these guys. There’s a reason they’re on the team.”
- “We have a very strong farm system. If there’s a guy who’s available who we think is an upgrade, I don’t think our trade capital is diminished in any real way.”
- “(Utley) obviously still feels he has a lot to offer, and I think going somewhere where I think playing time was more of a question probably would have been a concern for him if not a dealbreaker. He understands our situation.”
- Alex Guerrero and Hernandez will get reps as backups at third base, while Utley is also worked into that rotation.
- On playing time for Justin Turner and Joc Pederson: “I think it’s going to be up to Donnie (Mattingly) to mix and match and put the best lineup out there on a given day. We talked all season and in the offseason about having depth, not just to navigate injuries but also get the appropriate amount of rest to keep them fresh. I think we have some guys who might be a little fatigued (particularly younger players like Pederson who haven’t played a 162-game schedule). Having another seven weeks to go here, being able to pick some spots to get some rest will keep him fresh and strong and help his productivity.”
- “I think we have all the elements of a really good team. We got out of the gates really strong, and we’ve had stretches in other parts of the season where we did certain things well and struggled in other areas. I think we still have talent to bookend our season with a stretch … where we’re firing on all cylinders. We think we have the ingredients of a really good team, and it’s going to come down to execution.”