LOS ANGELES - With a quiet voice and a measured tone, Chase Utley said he was sorry that Ruben Tejada was injured on the slide that so angered the Mets. But the veteran infielder, a longtime Mets nemesis, offered no apology for making the play the way he did.
"I had no intent to hurt him whatsoever," Utley, 36, said in the Dodgers' clubhouse more than a half-hour after his team beat the Mets, 5-2, in Game 2 of their National League Division Series, "but I did have the intent to break up the double play."
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He shook his head "no" when he was asked if he had been in touch with Tejada, who suffered a broken right fibula on the pivotal play of the game -- an aggressive charge into second base in the bottom of the seventh that allowed the tying run to score and decisively changed the momentum of the game and possibly the series.
Utley acknowledged that he had watched a replay. When he was asked if what he saw constituted a late slide, he said, "I thought the whole play happened fast."
The Mets adamantly believed the slide was not a clean one, that it violated the written and unwritten rules of baseball because Utley did not start his approach before he reached the base and because he hit Tejada when the shortstop had his back to the runner.
After Utley's pinch-hit single put runners on first and third with one out in the seventh, Tejada took a flip from Daniel Murphy as he attempted to get a forceout and possibly start an inning-ending double play that would have preserved the Mets' 2-1 lead.
Making the play even more controversial, the forceout was overturned when a review revealed that Tejada's foot never touched second base. (Utley never touched second, either, and ran off the field after being called out.)
From the way David Wright glared into the dugout, it seemed as if he vividly recalled a similar play in 2010, when Utley, then of the Phillies, took out Tejada, who was playing second base. Even though Tejada wasn't injured then, Wright was outspokenly furious at the time.
Of course, Utley has been a second baseman throughout his long career and has much experience on pivot plays. When he was asked his view of what constitutes a dirty slide, he said, "I think cleats high, hitting the guy before he hits the ground. Those are things that are tough."
Here is how he saw the play Saturday night: "Howie [Kendrick] hit it. I saw Daniel Murphy catch it, flip to shortstop. I was trying to put a body on him to try to break up the double play. I think you're taught from a young age to try to break up double plays. I think that's winning baseball.
"My focus is seeing the ball. I didn't realize that his back was turned. Everything obviously happens fast. I tried to break it up," he said. "It was one of those awkward plays, first and third, tying run is on third base, going hard to try to break up the double play. What can I say? I feel terrible that he's injured."
A run came home on that play to tie the score, and the Dodgers went on to score three more times in the inning.
Kendrick, whose sharp grounder against reliever Bartolo Colon put Utley in motion, said, "That's baseball. That's part of the game. He probably did slide late, but that's part of the game. It's just unfortunate the guy got hurt. I think he was just not in a good position there . . .
"We play this game and you play hard, and it's never with the intention to hurt anybody. It [stinks] that he ended up hurt, but at the same time, you're playing the game and trying to do the best for your team, and Chase, I felt like he made a good baseball play there.''
Kendrick is the Dodgers' starting second baseman and acknowledged he has witnessed late slides.
"I try to get out of the way most of the time,'' he said. "Sometimes you don't have that chance. You just try to stick in there and take it for your team. But there are certain situations where you know, 'I've just got to get one out right here.' At times, that's all you can get, regardless of whether you're going to give up a run or not. Depending on the play, you've just got to try to make sure you get that first out and you want to try to get yourself out of the way.
"Like I said, it's unfortunate for a guy to get hurt on that type of play. But at the same time, we understand the plays and where we are in the game."
The Mets had had reason to believe they had seen the last of Utley, who seemed to have run out of steam with the Phillies. His batting average this year between his two teams was only .212. But the Dodgers liked his experience -- 46 postseason games before Saturday night with 10 home runs, which ranks ninth among active players -- and acquired the native of Long Beach, California, and former UCLA player on Aug. 19 as a backup.
"Obviously, it's a little bit different from what I've been accustomed to over the years, but I'm glad to be on a playoff team," Utley said. "I've played this game for a few years now. I feel like I've played it hard every day."