Since Chase Utley slid into second base in the seventh inning of Game 2 of the National League Division Series, he’s been at the center of headlines. Those headlines have often been less-than-flattering.
Utley was suspended two games by Major League Baseball on Sunday, but appealed, and is available for Game 3 on Monday night at Citi Field. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly mildly defended Utley in the immediate aftermath of Game 2, but was more poignant on Sunday, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
Our organization is proud of the way Chase plays,” Mattingly said. “We love the way he plays. He’s got a reputation for playing the game right, playing it hard, and we’re behind him 100 percent.”
Mattingly added he’s aware the attention is unlikely to subside any time soon and believes the situation would be different if reversed:
If it would have been their guy, they would be saying, David Wright, hey, he’s a gamer; he went after him. That’s the way you gotta play. But it’s our guy; it’s different. So I know how the, kind of, the New York media gets a little bit going, and it gets dramatic, but for me you can’t have it both ways. If David would have did it, it wouldn’t have been any problem here in New York.”
Given that Monday’s Game 3 is the first of the playoffs at Citi Field this year, both rosters will be announced prior to first pitch. That certainly will give the Mets’ faithful ample opportunity to shout their vitriol in Utley’s direction.
Utley thus far in the NLDS has solely been used as a pinch-hitter and is 1-for-2. Despite batting a career .333/.429/.556 against Matt Harvey in 18 at-bats, Utley is not in the lineup.