Chase Utley, whose 16-year playing career ended last fall with the Dodgers, is expected to officially join the club’s front office over the next week, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said Wednesday.
Friedman said Utley’s role hasn’t been determined, but he envisions Utley, a Long Beach native and UCLA product, spending time around the major league team and with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga. Utley, 40, spent time with the Dodgers’ front office at the winter meetings in December, sitting in on meetings in Las Vegas.
“We’re still figuring [the role] out,” Friedman said. “I think he can impact any area he decides to spend a lot of time on and I think, right now, it’s just about taking it all in. … Right now it’s just about learning as much as he can about different aspects and then figuring out what areas he’s more interested in.”
Utley spent his final three-plus seasons with the Dodgers after establishing himself as a premier second baseman over 12 years with the Philadelphia Phillies. The six-time All-Star ended his career with a .275 batting average, .823 on-base-plus-slugging percentage and 259 home runs.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Wednesday the team views Kenta Maeda as a starter, not a reliever, and plans on including Maeda in the starting rotation to begin the season.
Maeda, 30, began last season as a starter and started 20 games, but finished the year as a reliever and pitched out of the bullpen in the playoffs. He made 20 relief appearances.
“The versatility he has when you’re shortening your rotation, his ability to pitch out of the pen, helps us in the postseason, but we see him as a starter,” Roberts said. “And right now that’s all that I’m thinking about. We’re not thinking about what’s going to happen in the postseason. We got a long way to go to get to there.”
Roberts’s declaration suggests the Dodgers won’t hold any competition for a spot in the rotation this spring with Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Rich Hill also slotted in as starters. Barring injury, Ross Stripling, an All-Star last season, would begin the season as a reliever and Julio Urias could go to the bullpen or start for triple-A Oklahoma City.
First-year Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward hasn’t held a full-squad workout with the club, but the former Dodgers third base coach believes the Rangers boast better chemistry than the Dodgers concocted the previous two pennant-winning seasons.
“Two years in a row, we had a World Series-caliber team — this team is tighter than that team,” Woodward said, according to The Athletic. “It’s really not even close to me. The actual care for one another is much better here than it was in L.A.”
Woodward replaced Jeff Banister as manager in November after three seasons on the Dodgers’ coaching staff. Dino Ebel was hired as the Dodgers’ third base coach.