MILWAUKEE - Chase Utley prepared on Friday afternoon just as he does for every other game. He watched loops of video in the center of the clubhouse. He took his swings in Miller Park's indoor batting cage. Then some more hacks on the field as the hours ticked down to the start of a 3-1 loss to the Brewers.
They were just fleeting moments at the beginning of another day. But they could also be some of the final images of Utley's career in Philadelphia. Trade rumors swirled this week around Utley after he cleared waivers, making it possible for him to be traded to any team as long as Utley approves. The rumors appeared to intensify on Friday, creating the thought that Utley's time with the Phillies is limited.
"He keeps to himself quite a bit. He's very focused and he's got his own little program that he uses to get ready for every game, and he does his video," interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "He's kind of in the background quite a bit, so I don't really have to deal with him that much. We've talked a couple times and he's very easy to talk to. He understands the situation, and there's been no issues in that regard."
Utley batted leadoff and went 4 for 5 with a run batted in. It was his first four-hit game since May 12, 2013. He drove in the team's lone run with a single in the ninth. The 36-year-old is 11 for 22 in five games after missing more than a month with inflammation in his right ankle.
The four hits boosted Utley's batting average to a season-high .208. He has four doubles in 22 at-bats since returning. His previous four doubles were spanned over 102 at-bats.
"He looks as good as I've seen him," Mackanin said. "It's nice to see."
Adam Morgan allowed three runs in six innings. Odubel Herrera and Domonic Brown collided in the third inning after Herrera chased down a fly ball in right field. The miscue allowed Jean Segura to score from second base. He was the first player this season to score from second on a sacrifice fly.
The San Francisco Giants said on Thursday night that they offered the Phillies a trade for Utley, who makes his offseason home in the Bay Area. MLB.com reported on Friday that the Los Angeles Angels were "exploring the possibility" of acquiring Utley. CBS Sports reported later in the day that baseball executives believe Utley will ultimately decide between the Angels and Chicago Cubs. Comcast SportsNet reported on Friday night that the Houston Astros are in the mix.
Utley will likely require an assurance that he will play every day if he is to waive his no-trade clause. He needs to sign off on any trade because he has played 10 years in the big leagues and at least the last five have been with the same team. The Giants are currently without second baseman Joe Panik, but he is expected to return no later than Sept. 1. Both the Angels and Cubs could use an upgrade at second base.
"He looks fine. He looks great," Mackanin said. "There's no sign of injury, he's jumping around, moving around well and he's swinging the bat well. I'll just keep doing what I'm doing and keep playing him."
Utley lashed a ball to right-center field in the third. He motored into second and slid safely, stretching a single into a double. He led off the fifth with a single. Utley then charged second base on Odubel Herrera's grounder and slid aggressively to break up a would-be double play.
Utley's aggression got the best of him in the seventh inning. He singled to right field and broke for second. He slid wide of the tag, but was unable to halt his momentum. Utley glided past the bag and was tagged out to end the inning. He stayed on his knees and muttered to himself as the Brewers rushed off the field. Three more fleeting moments as one of Utley's potential final days carried on.