Was Chase Utley ever considered a candidate to be Gabe Kapler's bench coach? (Kevin Durso/SportsTalkPhilly)
By all accounts, Philadelphia Phillies icon Chase Utley wants to continue his career in 2018. But after Gabe Kapler raved about Utley - who he had crossed paths with in Los Angeles - in his introductory press conference, a report surfaced that Kapler and Phillies brass "considered" him as a bench coach. One beat writer now says that wasn't true.
According to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, Utley wasn't considered a candidate to be Kapler's bench coach, a role that eventually went to Rob Thomson:
I see him finishing his career with the Dodgers and spending his retirement on the West Coast. The rumor that Utley was being considered as bench coach? He wasn't considered and even if he was I would have been absolutely stunned -- think the Santana signing times 10 -- if Utley stopped playing baseball and immediately jumped into a coaching job on the East Coast.
SportsRadio 94 WIP's Howard Eskin reported on Nov. 22 that Utley was being "considered" for bench coach as the Phillies looked to fill out Kapler's staff. On Dec. 5, the Phillies formally announced that Thomson, who had served in various roles on Joe Girardi's staff for a decade, would be Kapler's bench coach. Thomson had interviewed for the Yankees managerial vacancy, but that role eventually went to Aaron Boone.
For what it's worth, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported on Dec. 1 - when reports began to surface that the Phillies were going to tab Thomson as their bench coach - that Utley wasn't interested in coaching, as he was preparing to play in 2018 instead. It's unclear if Rosenthal was confirming Eskin's report that the Phillies had some degree of interest in Utley as a coach, or simply noting that if they did, the interest wasn't mutual, because Utley wasn't ready to stop playing.
In any event, Utley becoming Kapler's bench coach never made much sense. As Zolecki said, even if Utley was ready to retire, he's from California and has had the chance to play there for two plus seasons now, so he may not be interested in moving back across the country to Philadelphia. On top of that, Kapler has next-to-no coaching experience himself, so going with a veteran coach like Thomson to be his right-hand man made more sense than Utley, who obviously has no coaching experience. What's more, while you would like every player to play like Utley, it's unclear how he would perform as a coach. You want all players to emulate Ryne Sandberg's playing style, but that didn't translate to him being an effective manager. Given that Kapler is something of an unknown as a manager, going with someone safe like Thomson as bench coach made the most sense for the Phillies.