Chase Utley was suspended two games by Major League Baseball. The suspension for Utley comes after he slid hard into the leg of New York Mets second baseman Ruben Tejada Saturday night (October 10). A report from Sports Illustrated states that Utley will be forced to sit out Games 3 and 4 of the National League Division Series. The second baseman of the Los Angeles Dodgers can choose to appeal the suspension, though, which is something players typically do in the regular season.
Utley has publicly stated that he did not intend to injure Tejada on the slide, and the former All-Star has also issued an apology. He did this through his friend David Wright, who is the starting third baseman for the New York Mets. In an interview with baseball analyst Ken Rosenthal, Utley was specific about what he had done.
“In no way shape or form was I trying to hurt Ruben. I slid in hard like I have for 12 years. I feel terrible about the outcome. I’ve reached out to Ruben via David Wright.”
It appears that Major League Baseball did not view the slide as an accident, though, leading to Chase Utley getting suspended for two games during the 2015 MLB Playoffs. MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre did release a statement about the suspension, giving a few answers for why the league is taking this route. One thing he also touched upon was potentially changing the rules on sliding during the offseason.
“I recognize that there has been much commentary and many questions regarding the unfortunate play in last night’s game in which Ruben Tejada was injured. As I said after the game, the determination of whether a baserunner has intentionally interfered with a player attempting to turn a double play is left to the judgment of the Umpire on the field, and that judgement call is not subject to review. I should add that determined where to draw the line between an illegal slide and a legitimate hard play is an extremely difficult call for our Umpires.”
He goes on to discuss that he believed Ultey did not intend to injure Tejada, but that he felt Utley did break a rule designed to protect fielders. This decision by the offices of Major League Baseball could lead to quite a few close plays at second base examined more closely in the near future. It could also lead to a very specific mission to have the rules changed during the offseason.
Ruben Tejada is out for the remainder of the playoffs with a broken leg. Thus far he had been terrible at the plate for the Mets, going 0-for-5 with five strikeouts to his credit. During the regular season, Tejada played in 116 games for the Mets, posting a.261 batting average and a.688 OPS. He primarily played shortstop, but also spent time at second base and third base during the season. Seen as a really good utility player for the team, this could be a big loss moving forward.
Utley was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies in a mid-season trade. During his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he played in 34 games and posted a.202 batting average. He had been hitting better in the month of September and the team hoped he would do well in the postseason. Though Utley has appeared in the first two games of the series with the Mets, he has only had two at-bats to this point.
It hasn’t been revealed whether or not Chase Utley will appeal the suspension handed down by Major League Baseball, but many baseball analysts are predicting that he will. If he decides to appeal it, then the Dodgers will have him available to play in Game 3.
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