PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Turns out, Ruben Tejada’s broken leg wasn’t worth much in the way of discipline as Chase Utley’s two-game suspension was rescinded on appeal, a source said Sunday. Utley is now eligible to play Opening Day for the Dodgers.
Utley fractured Tejada’s leg with a violent takeout slide in Game 2 of last year’s NLDS, and with the angry Mets anxious for payback, Major League Baseball moved quickly to stick him with a two-game suspension before Game 3 at Citi Field. Utley immediately appealed the penalty and the case was not heard until spring training.
“I don’t care really,” Tejada said before Sunday’s game against the Braves at Tradition Field. “I’m healthy here, I’m happy here, so I don’t care what’s gong to happen there.”
On appeal, it was determined there was inconsistency in the way the interference rule had been called in the past, and players had not been suspended for such a violation on similar plays.
Tejada’s injury, however, was not completely for naught. MLB, in cooperation with the union, announced a rule change last month to better protect infielders from dangerous slides. Titled Rule 6.01 (j), the new guidelines prohibit targeting fielders and force runners to make contact with the ground first before the opposing player. It also is now subject to video review.
“I don’t work in the MLB penalty department – the punishment means nothing to us,” David Wright said. “I’m glad there’s clarification. I’m not going to try to be the judge and jury for MLB at this point. What we were upset about last year they changed with the clarification of the slide.”
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