Person familiar with process to AP: Utley appeal hearing not held Monday, eligible to play

NEW YORK — Chase Utley’s appeal hearing for his two-game post-season suspension was not held Monday, a person familiar with the process told The Associated Press. That meant the Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman was eligible to play in Game 3 of the NL Division Series against the New York Mets.

MLB and the players union were working to schedule the hearing before special assistant to the commissioner John McHale Jr., the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized.

Utley was penalized Sunday by Joe Torre, MLB’s chief baseball officer, who said Utley’s takeout of Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in Game 2 on Saturday was an “illegal slide.” Tejada’s right leg was broken, and he will miss the rest of the post-season.

The tying run scored on the play, the first of four runs in the inning, and the Dodgers went on to win 5-2 and tie the series at one game apiece. If umpires had ruled the slide an illegal takeout, they could have called an inning-ending double play, which would have left the Mets ahead 2-1.

Utley asked the union to appeal the discipline. His agent, Joel Wolfe, said “a two-game suspension for a legal baseball play is outrageous and completely unacceptable.”

“The players association and my agent are handling the appeals process,” Utley said in a statement Monday. “I have nothing more to say other than to reiterate that I feel terrible about Ruben’s injury. Now my teammates and I are focused on Game 3 and doing everything we can to win this series.”

Under the sport’s collective bargaining agreement, the hearing is to start within 14 days of MLB receiving the appeal. Penalties are held in abeyance pending a decision on the appeal.

Then with Philadelphia, Utley also angered the Mets in 2010 when he slid hard into Tejada.

Utley is 6 for 18 against Mets Game 3 starter Matt Harvey, who hit him on the back with a 95 mph fastball at Citi Field on April 14 after Philadelphia’s David Buchanan plunked Wilmer Flores and Michael Cuddyer, both on the left hand.

“It was more of a tackle than anything,” Harvey said Sunday of the slide.

McHale had been MLB’s executive vice-president of administration from 2002 until April, when he received his new title. He has continued his role of hearing appeals of on-field discipline.

Before joining the commissioner’s office, McHale had been Colorado’s executive vice-president of baseball operations, Detroit’s chief executive officer and Tampa Bay’s chief operating officer.

Ronald Blum, The Associated Press




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