Major League Baseball overturned the two-game suspension levied against Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Chase Utley for his hard slide in Game 2 of the 2015 National League Division Series against the New York Mets.
Utley entered as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the seventh inning and drove a single into right field. On the next play, he slid late into Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada, who was attempting to turn a double play by spinning and throwing after fielding a toss on his left.
Tejada suffered a broken leg on the play, immediately ending his season. Utley was suspended for two games the following night. However, he appealed the decision and remained eligible to play in the NLDS.
Utley’s lone appearance after the controversial slide was as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning of Game 5.
His appeal hearing was pushed back and eventually scheduled to be held at some point during Spring Training. The hearing never took place, though Utley said he was previously notified the suspension had been lifted, according to Bill Plunkett of the OC Register:
Utley said Monday he had known “for a few weeks now” that Torre had rescinded the suspension. “I talked to Joe Torre at length on the phone and he expressed to me that what happened in the playoffs, after looking at other slides over the course of the years, it was not much different from those and there were no penalties there,” Utley said. “So with that said, they rescinded the suspension.”
While Utley avoided disciplinary action, MLB and the MLB Players association recently implemented new policies for slides into second base.
Seemingly destined to be known as the “Utley Rule,” runners trying to break up a double play must make a “bona fide attempt to reach and remain on the base.” Runners are still allowed to initiate contact with an infielder.
However, runners are not permitted to kick their legs above a fielder’s knee, throw an arm or upper portion of their body at a fielder, or change their pathway once they begin to slide or utilize a “roll block,” which MLB chief baseball officer Joe Torre noted Utley did to Tejada when announcing the suspension last October.
Utley re-signed with the Dodgers on a one-year, $7 million deal in December.