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Chase Utley still hears his famous phrase at Dodger Stadium

LOS ANGELES - Every night, Chase Utley said, he sees one or two Phillies jerseys in the stands. The native Californian plays here, so far from the first 13 years of his major-league career that made him an adopted son of Philadelphia. But the jerseys are a reminder. So is a certain phrase he uttered after a parade one October afternoon.

LOS ANGELES - Every night, Chase Utley said, he sees one or two Phillies jerseys in the stands. The native Californian plays here, so far from the first 13 years of his major-league career that made him an adopted son of Philadelphia. But the jerseys are a reminder. So is a certain phrase he uttered after a parade one October afternoon.

"I hear it here at this stadium," Utley said Monday as he grabbed the top of the home dugout at Dodger Stadium, hours before he faced his old team for the first time. Yes, fans affectionately curse at Utley, and it is how a city will forever express a bond with their second baseman.

"That was a good time back in 2008, for sure," he said.

Utley, 37, is grayer now, and he wears blue. The championship feels like a lifetime ago; Utley is chasing another ring while the Phillies rebuild from the mistakes that too much nostalgia generated.

But, when they played Led Zeppelin here and Utley stepped in against a Phillies pitcher who was 8 years old when Utley debuted at Veterans Stadium, it was arresting. He took ball one, then meekly flied out to left. Then, in the second inning, he flashed that trademark short swing on a fastball down and in that Phillies fans cherished for a decade. Utley crushed a solo homer to right and zoomed around the bases.

He will return to Citizens Bank Park next week with the Dodgers, and "Kashmir" is likely to play from the ballpark speakers in South Philadelphia for a visiting player. Utley never had a chance to say farewell in person. The Phillies had planned to honor him last Aug. 19, but the trade with Los Angeles was not finalized until more than an hour after the final pitch.

Utley, knowing that his time with the Phillies had reached its end, tipped his hat to some fans who remained near the dugout after the game. Then, he was gone, traded for infielder Darnell Sweeney and righthander John Richy.

"If I had to write it up all over again," Utley said, "it would have gone down a little differently, but you can't change what happened."

Utley will not allow himself to think about his return until the Dodgers are on the plane, but he hinted that even he, one of the more guarded athletes, could be affected.

"Obviously I have so many great memories from playing in the stadium and in front of those great fans," Utley said. "It's going to be exciting. It might be a bit emotional. But I'm looking forward to it."

Utley is not the player he was, but he remains an important presence on a team with great aspirations. He started Monday for the 81st time in 112 games this season. He posted a .796 OPS in April and May but languished in June. He rapped six hits in a 14-inning July game. He has played a little less in August.

He plans to play next season. The Dodgers offered him $7 million in 2016 and another chance to play for the World Series.

"That's the goal," Utley said. "That's what I think keeps a lot of us going - to get back to that stage and have the opportunity to be the best team in baseball. I think we have a good chance here."

The Phillies have moved past Utley, although his presence is still felt in the team's clubhouse. Ryan Howard, Cody Asche, and Cameron Rupp stay in touch with Utley. Second base, occupied by Cesar Hernandez, remains in doubt. The two minor-league players acquired for Utley have not performed well; Sweeney may soon lose his 40-man roster spot and Richy has bounced between single-A Clearwater and double-A Reading with control issues.

What does Utley miss most?

"It's the organization that gave me an opportunity to play professional baseball," Utley said. "I learned a lot from the coaching staff and the other players who came through the organization. Those are things I think about."

Next week, when No. 26 steps onto the Citizens Bank Park grass, there will be a little more to think about.