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Phillie shines despite missing homer

By BOB PUTNAM

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 23, 2001


When Chase Utley connected on a Ricardo Rodriquez pitch during the third inning of Saturday's all-star game, he watched two things -- the ball and outfielder Nic Jackson.

Utley hit a hard line drive but realized Jackson was chasing the ball about as fast as it was going. And in the final seconds of flight, Utley watched in disbelief as the ball went up ... over the fence ... and back into Jackson's glove.

Jackson a Daytona Cub, drew a bead on the ball, jumped and extended to make the highlight catch.

"I couldn't believe it," said Utley, a Clearwater Phillies second baseman who represented the Western Division. "I've never had a home run taken away from me before."

The catch provided the spark as the Eastern Division, which trailed 2-1 at the time, came back to win 3-2. While the rallying point came at Utley's expense, he said he did not fret about it for long.

After all, he still has another all-star game to make up for it.

Utley was selected to participate in the All-Star Futures game to be held July 8 in Seattle. The game is part of Major League Baseball's all-star week and features the game's top prospects.

"To be honest, I wasn't really familiar with the game," said Utley, a former UCLA player who was the Phillies' first-round pick (15th overall) in 2000. "I was surprised I made it, and it's a great honor. I'm looking forward to it."

Possessing unusual power for a second baseman, Utley ranks fourth on UCLA's all-time home run list (53) and leads Clearwater in home runs (nine).

If Utley connects on a pitch at the Futures game, he said he hopes it's long enough. "Hopefully that's the last time I have a home run taken away from me."

DUNEDIN: The Blue Jays could not clinch their third consecutive post-season berth during the first half. With 10 games left, Dunedin held a four-game lead in the Western Division but stumbled and lost out to Charlotte.

To win the second half, the two-time defending division champs must play better at home. On the road during the first half, the Jays' team batting average was almost 50 points higher and its ERA was more than a run lower than at home.

TAMPA: Among those on the Yankees roster are the organization's first two picks from the 2000 draft, catcher David Parrish and pitcher Danny Borrell. Yet the biggest surprise is seventh-round pick Mitch Jones, an outfielder from Arizona State.

Jones batted .281 during the first half and led the league in doubles (23) and extra-base hits (36). He was named a Western Division all-star.

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