It looks as if the Mets might have to wait for their shot at retribution against the Dodgers' Chase Utley.
After reviewing Utley's hard takeout slide that broke Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada's leg Saturday night, Major League Baseball on Sunday night declared it "illegal" and suspended the Los Angeles infielder for Games 3 and 4.
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The announcement by MLB chief officer Joe Torre said, "After thoroughly reviewing the play from all conceivable angles, I have concluded that Mr. Utley's action warrants discipline."StoryUtley suspended two games after 'illegal' slideStoryReaction to Utley's slide: There's a gray areaStoryHarrelson, Rose take sides on the Utley slide
Utley is appealing the suspension, agent Joel Wolfe said in a statement. "A two-game suspension for a legal baseball play is outrageous and completely unacceptable," the statement said. "Chase did what all players are taught to do in this situation -- break up the double play . . . Chase feels terrible about Ruben Tejada's injury, and everyone who knows him knows that he would never intentionally hurt anybody . . . "
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was considering starting Utley at second base in Monday night's NLDS Game 3 because of his strong track record against Matt Harvey, even though it would put him in position for some payback by the Mets.
Utley is 6-for-18 with a home run against Harvey; regular second baseman Howie Kendrick is 1-for-6.
There is a chance that Utley will be able to play Monday night if the appeals process cannot be completed before the game. The announcement of the suspension said Utley can appeal the decision and that the "discipline will be held in abeyance until the process is complete."
The Mets have been simmering since the slide, which turned the course of Game 2 in the seventh inning. It broke up what might have been an inning-ending double play, allowed the tying run to score and opened the door for a four-run rally that propelled the Dodgers to a series-tying 5-2 win.
Mets manager Terry Collins described his team as "pretty upset" on Sunday, and Harvey sounded prepared to exact some revenge. Now that might not happen.
"The New York Mets completely support the decision made by Major League Baseball to suspend Chase Utley for two games and feel this was the appropriate course of action," the Mets said in a statement released shortly after the announcement. "With this decision behind us, the team and our fans can now focus on playing winning baseball."
On Sunday night, several Mets wondered about Utley's intent when he began his slide late and hit Tejada as he attempted a spin to make a throw to first base for a possible double play. Torre didn't question it.
"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," Torre said in the statement.
He added that MLB and the MLB Players Association have been in discussions about instituting a rule to protect middle infielders.
Kershaw or Wood? Dodgers lefties Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood are preparing to start Tuesday's Game 4. Mattingly said the outcome of Game 3 is not the only factor that will determine whether Kershaw returns on three days' rest.