The term utility player in baseball is used to describe someone who can do it all, a team player that is prepared to take on any role they are given at a moments notice.
Players such as Ben Zobrist, Mark DeRosa and Chone Figgins have all taken on this role, one that has defined their careers and made them valuable contributors throughout their time in the baseball.
Even with the success these players have achieved, arguably none of them can hold a candle to the jack-of-all-trades Chase d’Arnaud. The 31-year-old California native has given the term a whole new meaning as the whether it is being a professional baseball player, a musician, a father, a brother or anything in between. Just like his role in the game he is ready to tackle any task he is given.
The soon-to-be seven-year major league utility veteran made his debut June 24, 2011 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Since his debut, d’Arnaud has bounced around the league playing for the Phillies, Braves, Red Sox, Padres, and most recently is a non-roster invitee to spring training with the San Francisco Giants. All told, d’Arnaud owns a humble .223 career batting average and has never played more than 84 games in a single season. Although he batted .375 in 11 games with the Braves at the start of 2017, d’Arnaud’s best came in 2016, when he played 84 games and batted .245.
With his playing style a mirror to Chase personally, by no means can d’Arnaud be considered a one-dimensional talent. Full of surprises, d’Arnaud has also made a name for himself within the music industry. d’Arnaud understands how fortunate he has been this far to be able to not only pursue but also be acknowledged for his work in his many fields, something that can be a challenge for athletes.
“It takes a lot of time to be able to perfect hitting a 100-miles per hour fastball and being able to recognize whether it is a ball or a strike, having the right mechanics it is a lot of work,“ d’Arnaud said. “There are a lot of people out there that have a lot going on outside of baseball, they don’t talk about it or expose it and let people know about that kind of stuff, you really have to get close to a ball player and what his habits are.”
While music for others may be a hobby or a side gig, for d’Arnaud it takes center stage. His musical feats include opening for Lady Antebellum, playing at Bonnaroo, and even taking the stage immediately following a Braves game at Turner Field in which he played.
While other things may not have been, music has always been a constant. Chase and his brotherTravis d’Arnaud, a catcher for the New York Mets, were born and raised by an opera-singing mother, a woman who had an indescribable impact on their lives. It was this early influence that shaped the brothers, as it was an instrument, not a bat or a glove that that he was accustomed to. Growing up it was never the goal to be a big leaguer as his passions took him in different directions.
Chase recognizes how passionate he is. While passion drives him, he knows that it can also become a negative quality. He is able to get so caught up in one thing that it takes away from his other passions. This realization has forced to him to shift his focus from music entirely to the game he loves. With his passion and excitement apparent, a newfound determination and desire to find his place in the baseball, d’Arnaud discusses his career so far and where he hopes it will go in the future.
How do you define your career and has it lived up to your expectations thus far?
“It hasn’t. Once you get to one point in your career you set a new goal. Once I was called up I hit a milestone of my own. You know for everybody once you start playing baseball professionally you want to get called up. Once I got my first call up, was called up by the Pittsburgh pirates in 2011. That was a day that I will never forget. I was up the rest of that year only to start at triple-A the following year and have to get called up again. That is typically how my years have gone. I have started at triple-A and have gotten called up every single year with the exception of last year when I broke camp with the Atlanta Braves.”
How do you prepare going into a utility role where you can be asked to do something different each and everyday?
“You really got to do everything. I have taken thousands of ground balls, fly balls, I’ve taken ground balls at shortstop, third-base, second-base, I have taken fly-balls everywhere in the outfield. I have continued my speed, agility training, you name it. I go in there having practiced everything and ready for any role that goes my way.”
What expectations do you have going into this upcoming season?
“My expectations this year based on the team I am with, they have obviously gone and handpicked a lineup that is very talented, proven big leaguers…. They have done their homework and they have those pieces in place. Realistically I think I have a good shot at being a role-playing guy on this squad because I play multiple positions and I have done that in the big leagues for a few years now. I am quick; I can still run a 60-yard dash in under 6.4 seconds. I love to steal bases and positivity is key for me. I go in this year more confidently than I have in years past because I have trained a lot harder and smarter than I have in years past. I think part of that is because of the new addition to the family. My son was born seven months ago. It just made me want to work a lot harder. So this off-season I put a lot more time in and just worked with a group of guys that shared that.”