NEW YORK (CBSLA.com/AP) — After all that, Chase Utley is safe.
The two-game suspension imposed on the Los Angeles Dodgers infielder after his hard takeout slide broke the leg of Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in last year’s playoffs has been dropped.
A person briefed on the decision told The Associated Press on Sunday that Major League Baseball and the players’ union reached an agreement that rescinded the ban. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because there was no official announcement.
Utley played in the Dodgers’ exhibition game against San Francisco, then said he would “talk tomorrow. I’ll do that.”
Tejada said he wasn’t upset with the decision.
“No. I don’t care really,” he said at New York’s spring training complex. “I care about me. I’m healthy here. I’m happy here. I don’t care about what’s going to happen there.”
“That’s the past. I’m all right here this year, healthy,” he said,
Tejada said Utley didn’t contact him after the injury, which knocked him out of the World Series.
As for the ruling, Tejada said: “I can’t control that situation, so I can’t do anything with that.”
Neither Utley or Tejada mentioned that the playoff slide wasn’t the first time Utley upended Tejada in an aggressive manner. When he was playing for the Phillies in 2010, Utley took out Tejada but at that time, Tejada didn’t break anything.
During the playoffs many players took to social media to discuss Utley’s slide.
MLB and the union have since reworked the rule on slides to cover the sort of play that flipped Tejada and resulted in Utley’s penalty in Game 2 of the NL Division Series at Dodger Stadium.
In the past, late slides such as Utley’s had been a gray area — sometimes they were allowed by umpires and MLB, sometimes not. Under what some fans are calling the Chase Utley Rule, rolling blocks are now illegal.
The six-time All-Star second baseman is eligible to play when Los Angeles opens the season April 4 at San Diego.
Players’ union head Tony Clark talked to Mets players Sunday morning as part of his tour of spring training camps. He said the Utley matter had been handled but offered no details.
“The issue has been resolved,” Clark said in Port St. Lucie, Florida. “If he’s not playing opening day then you’ll have an appreciation for how it was resolved, but it has been resolved.”
Under guidelines announced last month, a runner must make a “bona fide slide” — that means hitting the ground before the bag, being in position to and trying to reach the base with a hand or foot, attempting to remain on the base after the slide and sliding within reach of the base without altering his path to make contact with a fielder.
Utley was ruled safe on the play in mid-October when a replay review showed Tejada never touched second base while trying for a forceout. MLB executive Joe Torre, however, later called it an illegal slide and issued a two-game suspension.
Utley appealed, allowing him to keep playing in the postseason. The Mets went on to beat the Dodgers in the deciding Game 5.
The 37-year-old Utley was traded from Philadelphia to the Dodgers last August. He hit .202 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 34 for Los Angeles, and a combined .212 with eight homers and 39 RBIs in 107 games overall last year.
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