By Jon Weisman
Major League Baseball tonight suspended Chase Utley for Games 3 and 4 of the National League Division Series for what it said in a statement was an “illegal slide” in Saturday’s Game 2.
Utley is appealing the suspension. The appeal is expected to be heard before Monday’s Game 3 in New York.
The Dodgers issued the following statement: “The Dodgers stand behind Chase Utley and his decision to appeal the suspension issued tonight by Major League Baseball. The club will have no further comment at this time.”
MLB chief baseball officer Joe Torre outlined his reasons for the suspension in a statement.
“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,” Torre said. “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 judgment call is not subject to review. I should add that determining where to draw the line between an illegal slide and a legitimate hard play is an extremely difficult call for our umpires.
“However, after thoroughly reviewing the play from all conceivable angles, I have concluded that Mr. Utley’s action warrants discipline. While I sincerely believe that Mr. Utley had no intention of injuring Ruben Tejada, and was attempting to help his club in a critical situation, I believe his slide was in violation of Official Baseball Rule 5.09 (a)(13), which is designed to protect fielders from precisely this type of rolling block that occurs away from the base.
“We have been in discussions with the Players Association throughout the year regarding potential rule changes to better protect middle infielders, and we intend to continue those discussions this offseason.”
If the suspension were upheld, the Dodgers would play a man short on their roster for its duration.