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Chase Utley will do anything to help the Dodgers

Chase Utley will do anything to help the Dodgers
Dodgers designated hitterChase Utley steps to the plate against the Astors in the third inningFriday night in Houston. (Scott Halleran / Getty Images)

Wearing a Dodgers uniform for the first time Friday, Chase Utley reflected on his childhood in Long Beach.

He recalled idolizing Steve Sax, Brett Butler and Kirk Gibson. He shared his memory of attending Game 2 of the 1988 World Series, when Orel Hershiser pitched a shutout.

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"Those are memories that I'll remember forever," Utley said.

Acquired in a waiver trade with the Philadelphia Phillies, Utley will now try to create memories for a generation of fans who have never seen the Dodgers in a World Series.

Utley batted second for the Dodgers in their series opener against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. He was the designated hitter but will be the team's primary second baseman while Howie Kendrick is on the disabled list. Kendrick, who is recovering from a strained hamstring, is expected to be sidelined until September.

Manager Don Mattingly said Kendrick will be the starter at second base when he returns. Utley sounded as if he would be fine with that, saying, "I'm not here to try to take anybody's position."

Utley said he was open to working out at third base, where he could serve as a backup to Justin Turner when Kendrick returns.

"I played a little third base in the minor leagues," he said. "A few years ago, we thought about maybe making the transition over to third base, so I took a ton of ground balls. I'll take some grounders over there and see what happens."

At 36 years old, Utley is batting a career-low .213. He went 0 for 4 as the Dodgers were no-hit by Mike Fiers.

But Utley thinks he can still be productive.

"I feel like I have some gas left in the tank," Utley said, adding that he "absolutely" expects to play beyond this season.

Utley said his slow start was the result of problems with his right ankle.

"It wasn't an ideal situation throughout the first part of the season," Utley said. "Every player that plays on an everyday basis has aches and pains. But ultimately, I felt like it was really hurting my performance. That's why I decided to take it easy, go on the DL and get everything squared away."

Puig nears return

Yasiel Puig tested his right hamstring in a pregame workout Friday and could return to the Dodgers' lineup as early as Saturday.

"He came out and ran hard," Mattingly said.

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Puig ran under the watch of trainer Stan Conte.

"I expect him to definitely be able to play in this series, just from Stan's tone and the way he sounded," Mattingly said.

Puig sustained what was described as a "very mild" hamstring strain Tuesday in a loss to the Oakland Athletics.

Twitter: @dylanohernandez

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