UPDATE: Here’s Chase Utley’s response, according to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. It’s pretty much what you would expect him to say.
“I have never ever attempted to break up a double play with the intent
to injure someone,” he told MLB.com. “I understand what it’s like to be
taken out. I’ve been kicked, kneed, elbowed, spiked and even flipped
upside down. And as much as I might not have liked it at the time, I
understand that it’s all part of being a Major League second baseman.
Second basemen have had to deal with this for over 100 years. And with
that said, we as a team play the game hard and play it to win. That is
not going to change.”
11:56 AM: The Phillies continue to be the hottest team on the planet. They defeated the Mets 3-2 last night to extend their season-high winning streak to 11 games and reduce their magic number to two. And consistent with when these two teams usually meet up, it didn’t come without a little bit of bad blood.
After the game, a number of Mets told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com that they were irked by Chase Utley’s takeout slide of Ruben Tejada during a double play in the fifth inning. You can watch the play in question here and judge for yourself, but here’s what David Wright had to say about the incident.
“You can ask him. He’s a second baseman. If he wants guys sliding like
that into him, then it’s perfectly fine. He knows how to play the game.
If he doesn’t mind guys coming in like that when he’s turning a double
play, then we don’t have any problem with it. It’s a legal slide. It’s
within the rules. But somebody is going to get hurt. So I guess that’s a
better question for him.”
“Chase, he plays the game hard. He plays the game passionately. But
there’s a thin line between going out there and playing the game hard
and going out there trying to get somebody hurt. That’s a thin line.
Nobody is going to push us around. We’re going to have our teammate’s
back. I think cooler heads prevailed, but we’ve got to let them know
that over on our side we didn’t appreciate it and that we’re going to go
out there and have our teammates’ backs. I think our bench let him
know. As far as I’m concerned, it’s done. We move on. We’ll reevaluate
the way we go into second base.”
For what it’s worth, Tejada didn’t have any issue with the slide, though it’s nice for Wright to say something that didn’t come out of a cliche generator. In truth, the Mets should probably be more concerned with the very real possibility that the Phillies will clinch their fourth straight NL East crown right in front of them this weekend. The best way to fight back would be to, you know, actually win some baseball games.
It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.
On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.
At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.
If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.
Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.
Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.
The Rangers got a bit of a breather on Saturday after clinching the division lead during Friday night’s win. Naturally, it was also a prime opportunity for another of Adrian Beltre‘s well-documented antics, as he spent his off day directing the Rangers’ infield defense with a series of signs. Even with Carlos Beltran‘s help, no one, least of all those playing the infield, appeared to have any idea what Beltre’s gestures were intended to convey.
You can add this to the list of in-game oddities Beltre has become so well-known for over the years, running the gamut from the way he kicked a ball over the foul line to his histrionics every time someone comes close to touching his head. If nothing else, it’s a convincing audition reel for the third baseman’s future in major league coaching — a career path that, I’d imagine, would end up looking something like this: