Chase Utley has a reputation for being “hard-nosed” but lets be honest, the guy is just a flat-out dirty player. On Opening Day we saw that in clear colors yet again.
In the top of the 3rd inning with Utley’s Los Angeles Dodgers leading the San Diego Padres 2-0, the 37-year-old was hit by a Tyson Ross pitch. As he stood on first base, Justin Turner ripped a double to left, and Utley tried to score. Melvin Upton Jr. and Alexei Ramirez combined on a relay to the plate, where catcher Derek Norris got the ball and waited on Utley to arrive.
As Utley approached the plate, Norris gave him a clear path to it. Instead of taking that opening, Utley swung way inside the baseline, aimed for the middle of the plate and dove in knees first as if he intended to do a cross-body takeout of Norris’ legs. It was a clear attempt at a takeout slide. Norris was still able to tag Utley out.
Here are several angles of the play:
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For a guy with Utley’s history that was an absolutely unacceptable slide. Remember, he’s the same guy who fractured Ruben Tejada’s leg with a dirty slide in Game 2 of the National League Division Series last year. He also went at Tejada previously in 2010.
At some point Utley needs to be held accountable for this kind of thing. If this relay throw had been a second late, or if Norris had to step up to catch it, he could have been completely taken out and possibly seriously injured.