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Roberts: Uniform dispute 'water under bridge'

Braves announcer claimed Dodgers' batting-practice attire 'unprofessional'
MLB.com @kengurnick

ATLANTA -- Braves broadcaster Joe Simpson, whose on-air comments about the Dodgers' batting-practice attire Saturday night triggered a viral firestorm, met privately Sunday morning with Dodgers infielder Chase Utley in the visiting clubhouse.

Utley was the target of Simpson's most pointed criticism for not wearing his uniform during batting practice. Instead, Utley and several Dodgers wore T-shirts, with Utley's promoting former Major League closer Jason Motte's charity for striking out cancer. Utley drew Simpson's ire for not wearing socks and having his pants legs pulled up to his knees.

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ATLANTA -- Braves broadcaster Joe Simpson, whose on-air comments about the Dodgers' batting-practice attire Saturday night triggered a viral firestorm, met privately Sunday morning with Dodgers infielder Chase Utley in the visiting clubhouse.

Utley was the target of Simpson's most pointed criticism for not wearing his uniform during batting practice. Instead, Utley and several Dodgers wore T-shirts, with Utley's promoting former Major League closer Jason Motte's charity for striking out cancer. Utley drew Simpson's ire for not wearing socks and having his pants legs pulled up to his knees.

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"They looked very unprofessional," Simpson said in a conversation with broadcast partner Chip Caray, while the Braves' telecast showed the Dodgers taking batting practice in T-shirts. "If I were a Dodger fan, I'd be embarrassed, and I don't know how Major League Baseball allows such attire when the gates are open."

The comments drew a swift rebuke Saturday night from Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.

"I take it personally when people question our professionalism," Roberts said, adding that he expected an apology. "I'll put the way we play the game and the way we prepare against anybody's."

But he pivoted to a more conciliatory tone Sunday when told during his pregame media scrum that Simpson met with Utley. Simpson apparently did not meet with Roberts or any of the other Dodgers, and Roberts had not yet spoken to Utley.

Neither Utley nor Simpson spoke to reporters, and the Braves wouldn't offer any official comment.

Tweet from @mlbbowman: A Braves official said Joe Simpson expressed remorse as he spoke to Chase Utley regarding comments made during last night���s broadcast about the Dodgers��� BP attire. While the Braves do not support Simpson���s comments, the club believes the matter is over.

"It's past," said Roberts. "For us, it's water under the bridge. If he talked to Chase and Chase is good with it, it's fine by me."

Roberts, however, also said the game "is driven by the players," and while the game is changing, those in the game must change with it.

"Where a bat flip or whatever it might be that adds a little color to the game, doesn't mean it's wrong," he said. "You judge a player by running balls out, playing the game hard. That's what's important. The game is fun. To hold players to a certain standard that they have to act a certain way for it to be professional, for me is absurd.

"To say I have a loose clubhouse, yes. But I have players that watch the game, talk about the game, talk about the opposition, they run balls out, they go first to third, they go on balls in the dirt, when they get hit by a pitch, they take their base. We don't throw at hitters intentionally to hurt people. We celebrate small victories within our team. And I think that's a good thing."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers