Ruben Tejada believes Chase Utley's takeout slide was indeed a dirty play. But in his first public comments since the slide shattered his right leg and ended his season, Tejada's anger has subsided.
"I'm really happy because we're here and he's at home," Tejada said with a laugh Saturday before the Mets faced the Royals in Game 4 of the World Series.
Latest Mets stories
Tejada's season ended on Oct. 11 in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Dodgers. The shortstop was trying to turn a double play when Utley came barreling down on him.StorySyndergaard's last pitch more crucial than firstStoryWhy knockdown pitch didn't win game for MetsColumnLennon: Syndergaard drops hammer in Game 3
Tejada was carted off the field in a moment that has since passed into Mets lore, and Utley later was hit with a two-game suspension.
After reviewing video of the play, Tejada said Utley came in "really, really late."
"It was not a good play," Tejada said. "I know he plays hard and everything. But it's different when you play hard and you try to do too much in that position, in that situation."
The flip from Daniel Murphy forced Tejada to turn his back to Utley, leaving him exposed. He was surprised at the slide, given that Utley is a longtime second baseman. "He plays middle infield, too," Tejada said. "He knows the rules. He knows every situation . . . I know he's coming in hard. But I'd never think like that."
Tejada jumped, hoping to avoid contact, but "I didn't have a chance, he hit me, and I can't do anything."
Tejada will remain in a walking boot for a few more weeks, though he expects to be ready for spring training.
"It's not what I want," he said of the injury. "But it's getting better every day."
Tejada watched nervously like a fan as the Mets beat the Dodgers in five games and swept the Cubs to win their first pennant since 2000.
"I'm really happy because I'm part of this team," Tejada said. "You work from spring training to be in this moment. I'm happy we're here."
Tejada still is walking with a cane adorned with Mets logos, which he said was provided by the Wilpon family. Since the injury, he has appeared in pregame introductions, receiving rousing ovations each time.
"They've stayed with me the whole time," Tejada said. "I appreciate that."
Through captain David Wright, Utley reached out to Tejada. But he did not respond. "In that moment, I don't want to do anything," Tejada said. "I just wanted to stay relaxed and stay positive. You can't do anything. That's why I didn't say anything to him back."
But time has not changed Tejada's plan. He does not intend to respond to Utley, who still might be playing next season.
Said Tejada, "He knows what he did."