PHOENIX -- Dodgers infielder Chase Utley, his suspension appeal still pending, spoke carefully when asked about the rule change that he unintentionally played a part in making and is likely to informally carry his name.Utley was suspended two games for his aggressive postseason takeout slide of Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada,
PHOENIX -- Dodgers infielder Chase Utley, his suspension appeal still pending, spoke carefully when asked about the rule change that he unintentionally played a part in making and is likely to informally carry his name.
Utley was suspended two games for his aggressive postseason takeout slide of Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada, who suffered a broken left leg when he turned his back to the runner and was upended by Utley trying to break up a double play. The suspension was issued by Major League Baseball the day after on-field umpires ruled the play legal.
On Thursday, 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."
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Potential violations are reviewable by replay, as is the "neighborhood play" in which a middle infielder straddles the base or glides past it on a double-play pivot. That play was previously not eligible for replay review, and this change will mean an end to the tactic, meaning middle infielders will need to touch the base while in possession of the ball.
"I imagine the rule probably is a little more clear and specific about what is allowed and not allowed," said Utley. "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 awhile to get comfortable."
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Utley said he has not heard anything new about a hearing date for the appeal of his suspension. MLB has previously indicated it would be resolved before the regular season starts.
Utley said it's his belief that Thursday's rule was not entirely a reaction to his controversial slide.
"From my understanding, we've been trying to work on this for a few years now to get on the same page, and obviously we are," he said. "I don't think it was just one play."
The slide triggered a national debate over the fine line between an aggressive slide and a dirty one. Utley was held out of the next game in New York, with then-manager Don Mattingly citing safety concerns for the player and his family. At the time, Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw suggested that MLB was "bullied" into issuing a suspension for a slide no worse than many slides that had gone without discipline.
Andrew Friedman, Dodgers president of baseball operations, said he would not comment until reviewing the new rule.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com.