Utley won't have to serve 2-game suspension

March 6th, 2016

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers infielder Chase Utley will not have to serve his two-game suspension for a slide in last year's National League Division Series against the Mets, a source has told MLB.com. The league has not officially announced the decision.

Word of the decision was initially reported by the Los Angeles Times, though Utley declined to address the report early Sunday morning.

"I don't want to comment until something is official," Utley said.

Utley was suspended two games for his aggressive Game 2 takeout slide of Mets shortstop Ruben Tejeda, who sustained a broken left leg when he turned his back to the runner and was upended by Utley's attempt to break up a double play. The suspension was issued by MLB the day after on-field umpires ruled the play legal.

"You hear rumblings, but if that's the case, it's great for Chase and great for us to turn the page and move on," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after Sunday's 5-2 win over the Giants. "The league has made the rule adjustment and made it very clear what's legal and what's illegal. As far as no suspension, I think the ruling is correct."

Utley immediately appealed the suspension but did not appear in either of the two games in New York -- where the Dodgers had a beefed-up security detail at their hotel and Citi Field.

Joe Torre, MLB chief baseball officer, told the newspaper that the suspension "sort of lost its impact" once Utley appealed and it became clear he would not miss any postseason games.

Last month, MLB and the Players Association agreed that "slides on potential double plays will require runners to make a bona fide attempt to reach and remain on the base. Runners may still initiate contact with the fielder as a consequence of an otherwise permissible slide. A runner will be specifically prohibited from changing his pathway to the base or utilizing a 'roll block' for the purpose of initiating contact with the fielder."

Potential violations are reviewable by instant replay, as are "neighborhood play" calls, which previously were not reviewable.

Torre said he hoped the new rule would have the same effect as last year's home-plate collision rule in preventing unnecessary injuries. He also said that the new slide rule made upholding Utley's suspension difficult on appeal.

"I think it would have been an issue," Torre said. "There wasn't anything clear-cut to say that play violated a rule."

"The most important thing is that the rule was changed," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said when asked about the report.

"I don't care, really; I care about me," Tejada said on Sunday. "I'm healthy here. I'm happy here. So I don't care about what's going to happen there or whatever decision that they take."

"I imagine the rule probably is a little more clear and specific about what is allowed and not allowed," Utley said last month. "It's been all I've known for a while, so I imagine there will be a little part of adjustment -- not only for infielders but baserunners and umpires. It's like the plate rule and batter's-box rule [changes] -- it takes a while to get comfortable."

A free agent during the offseason, Utley re-signed with the Dodgers for one year and $7 million to play second base and third base. His playing time, however, is expected to diminish in light of the unexpected re-signing of second baseman Howie Kendrick.