By Jon Weisman
Chase Utley spoke to reporters today about MLB rescinding his two-game suspension for his hard slide into Ruben Tejada at last year’s National League Division Series.
“At the end of the day, I believe that he believes the slide was not an illegal slide,” Utley said, according to Bill Plunkett of the Register.
Utley also spoke about Tejada, according to Doug Padilla of ESPN.com.
“I can’t say enough how terrible I felt for Ruben,” Utley said. “I had no intent to hurt him whatsoever. If anybody thinks I did, they’re completely wrong.”
… Tejada, vulnerable because his back was turned toward Utley, suffered a fractured right fibula and was sidelined for the rest of the playoffs. In announcing the suspension for what an MLB statement called an “illegal slide,” (MLB chief baseball officer Joe) Torre cited Utley for a “rolling block … away from the base.”
However, such a slide was not explicitly outlawed until Feb. 25, when MLB adopted a new rule to protect middle infielders on slides into second. As a result, Torre said Sunday, the league might have faced difficulty upholding the suspension via an appeal hearing.
“I think it would have been an issue,” Torre said. “There wasn’t anything clear-cut to say that play violated a rule.”
Torre said the priority for the league was not in pursuing a suspension of Utley but in revising the rules to enhance player safety. …
Here are some more pregame news and notes …
- Howie Kendrick was going to make his first Spring Training start at third base today, but he was a late scratch because of right groin soreness. For the second time in three days, Shawn Zarraga was called upon to serve as emergency designated hitter, with Rob Segedin taking the start at third.
- Carl Crawford confirmed to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com that he has been told he will begin the season as a reserve left fielder behind Andre Ethier.
- Gurnick rounds up some more health updates, including two innings of live batting practice by Julio Urias and the resumption of Hyun-Jin Ryu’s throwing program after a week off.
- Also, Ethier has a right-hand contusion but was able to continue most baseball activities today, while Alex Guerrero is also back at it and is a candidate to start at designated hitter on Tuesday.
- Micah Johnson spoke to Padilla about his bid to carve out playing time for himself at what’s become a crowded second base for the Dodgers.
- SportsNet LA’s Alanna Rizzo was among those to speak with Richard Deitsch of SI.com in this comprehensive story about safety issues facing female sports reporters.
- The story of Clayton Kershaw’s Public Enemy No. 1 is introduced from the point of view of the batter, Sean Casey, in this Anthony Castrovince story for Sports on Earth.
- UCLA unveiled a Jackie Robinson statue on campus Sautrday, writes Chad Thornburg of MLB.com. In December, the Dodgers announced plans for their own Robinson statue at Dodger Stadium this year.
- Tom Knight, a preeminent Brooklyn baseball historian, is remembered in this obituary by Bruce Weber for the New York Times.