After Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw suggested that Major League Baseball might have been “bullied” into suspending Chase Utley, Commissioner Rob Manfred pointedly dismissed that notion.
“The thought of Joe Torre being bullied by anyone I find to be just a little laughable,” Manfred said at Citi Field on Monday before Game 3 of the National League division series between the Dodgers and New York Mets.
Torre, the league’s chief baseball officer, suspended Utley for two games because of his controversial slide in Game 2 on Saturday. Utley upended Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada, who suffered a broken leg.
Utley sent his regrets to Tejada via a text message to Mets third baseman David Wright. On Monday, Wright pointedly declined to say whether he thought the message was sincere.
“I got the text and I passed it to Ruben,” Wright said.
Utley remains eligible to play pending an appeal hearing. Officials from the league and players’ union conferred Monday and hope to set a date for the hearing Tuesday.
“I’d like to think it can be done before the end of the series,” Manfred said.
Utley’s agent, Joel Wolfe, said Sunday that “plays at second base similar to this one have not resulted in suspensions.” Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said Monday that he watched MLB Network on Monday and saw what he called “similar” slides that did not result in suspensions.
Manfred denied that Torre was selectively enforcing a rule, a common charge among Utley supporters on talk shows and on social media.
“No two on-field incidents are exactly the same,” Manfred said. “To say there was one slide at second base that kind of looked the same to a layman and that was the same as the incident we had the other night, I just think it’s hard to jump to that conclusion. Each one of these is unique.”
Manfred said that league officials would talk with Mattingly and Mets Manager Terry Collins before Monday’s game “out of an abundance of caution” so the focus would be “on a nice clean game.”
Said Manfred: “I’m really confident the teams are going to go out tonight and play baseball and the game will overtake this story.”