Leading Off

What was Dodgers’ true motivation for trading for Chase Utley?

Philadelphia Phillies' Chase Utley acknowledges cheers from the crowd after a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015, in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia Phillies' Chase Utley acknowledges cheers from the crowd after a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015, in Philadelphia. AP

This, that and the other thing:

▪ With the Giants unable – or unwilling – to pull the trigger on a trade for Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, the Dodgers stepped in and ensured their National League West rivals to the north didn’t get their man.

Los Angeles, with its own second baseman, Howie Kendrick, on the disabled list, traded prospects on Wednesday for the 36-year-old veteran. It had been rumored for weeks that Utley, a Bay Area resident, would soon be wearing black and orange.

But what was the Dodgers’ motivation behind the trade? Do they really expect to keep Utley – who entered Wednesday hitting .217 with 30 RBIs – in the lineup once Kendrick (.296, 49 RBIs) returns in a couple weeks? Or was it more about keeping Utley out of AT&T Park?

▪ You have to believe that the emergence of rookie Kelby Tomlinson at second base is a big reason the Giants didn’t make a trade with the Phillies for Utley. Tomlinson hit .324 in 64 games at Double-A Richmond earlier this season and then .316 in 33 games with the River Cats before being called up to the Show on Aug. 3.

As much as the Giants would like to see Tomlinson keep playing and improving, he isn’t about to replace the injured Joe Panik. But what a nice problem it is for the Giants to have so much young talent at second.

▪ The Giants’ biggest concern isn’t at second base, but rather right field. Hunter Pence, who is reportedly out until early September with an oblique injury, has missed 67 games in this injury-riddled season for San Francisco’s outfielders. Without Pence, the Giants have a 30-37 record entering Wednesday night’s game. With Pence in the lineup, the Giants are 35-17.

▪ As frail as Tim Lincecum looks, the Giants pitcher is like a 2,000-pound anvil sitting in the team’s dugout. He hasn’t pitched since June 27 and had an 8.10 ERA in his last four starts. The Giants are paying him $18 million this season to high-five teammates after hitting home runs.

Victor Contreras (916) 326-5527, vcontreras@sacbee.com, @sacbeevictor

Playbook

  • WHAT TO WATCH: Preseason football, Buffalo at Cleveland, 5 p.m., ESPN: Not exactly a dream matchup in August, but it’s football, so we’ll watch.
  • TWITTER CHATTER: “Who would have imagined that the #Phillies DP combo of Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley would be together this year, only in LA with #Dodgers?” – Bob Nightengale, @BNightengale
  • ON THIS DATE: On Aug. 20, 2000, Tiger Woods wins the PGA Championship in a playoff over Bob May. He’s the first since Ben Hogan in 1953 to win three majors in one year.
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